Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Collar: Forming Priests Forever

The story of five not-so-young men --- Ron, Dean, Jim H, Jim P, and Don --- and their seminary classmates, being formed to, if they can, be priests. Two "new men", two partway through formation, one final-year seminarian nearly ready to petition for ordination. Real men, at a real seminary, our wonderful local Sacred Heart Seminary right here in Milwaukee. By the end of the academic year, one is ordained, two proceed to the next year of formation, two leave, one voluntarily, one not. Very real, doubts and fears and errors included; not Pollyanna and not M. Rose either.

The author, Jonathan Englert, spent the year embedded at the seminary, with wide-open access to all aspects of the seminary life, and even the personal lives of his five selected men. He writes clearly and well, and the narrative grabs one and brings one along; although entirely fact, it reads much like a novel.

I'm jumping the gun just a little, since I'm only 3/4 through the second, careful, reading, but this book, is most definitely worth reading. In fact, I think it's mandatory corrective reading for anyone who has been exposed to the M. Rose "expose" of seminary life. Those with book budgets can purchase the book through this link to Amazon or at your favorite bookstore, those without can bug your local public library for it (I do have to plug my former employer!)

Seminary is a very different, and some believe strange and mysterious, place. A place that produces (or at least is supposed to) ontologically different, self-giving, other-oriented priests. The priests the Church needs, without whom the sacramental life of the Church is terribly crippled. This book takes away the strangeness and the mystification, leaving just a wonderful appreciation of the differences that make seminaries what they are, and not just another graduate school.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the book recommendation. Sounds like a good read - I'll be adding that to my list!