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The Collar Hardcover – April 7, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (April 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618251464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618251469
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,240,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sacred Heart, located in Hales Corners just outside Milwaukee, is America's largest Catholic seminary specializing in second-career priests: men who have already held jobs and, in some cases, married and raised families. A generation ago, when priests were plentiful, such older men would not normally have become candidates for holy orders. In Sacred Heart's entering class of 2002, however, the average age was 45. Englert, a Columbia School of Journalism graduate and Catholic convert, spent a school year trailing five of the seminary's 80 students—a hyperactive ex-Marine, a blind proponent of social justice, two middle-aged divorcés and a widowed septuagenarian—chronicling their classes and their downtime, their conflicts and their hopes. Most but not all would complete the course: "The aura that drew people to the profession couldn't necessarily sustain them through the steps that were required to join it." Throughout the account, Englert remains invisible: this is the seminarians' story, not his own. Occasionally his comprehensiveness turns tedious; not every conversation or classroom lecture moves the story along. Nevertheless, readers will find his portrayal of priestly formation both compassionate and eye-opening, and it should be required reading for anyone thinking about becoming a priest. (Apr.)
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Review

"This is not a nadve book, or an apologetic one, but it is one filled with empathy and wonder." --Samuel G. Freedman, author of “Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church”

"Compassionate and eye-opening...it should be required reading for anyone thinking about becoming a priest." Publishers Weekly

"An engaging look inside a Catholic seminary dispels many mysteries . . . Puts a human face on the word 'priest.'" Kirkus Reviews

"Gripping...Englert deftly illuminates a milieu foreign even to most Catholics." --Matthew Hay Brown The Baltimore Sun

"As compelling as a good novel." --Andrew Hudgins News and Observer

"Wrenching and darkly humorous." --Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett The Seattle Times

"Englert is a sensitive eye-witness. His book is a needed eye-opener." --Leonard Gill, Memphis Flyer

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Customer Reviews

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This work was very well researched and written.
Michael P. McNamara
If you have any interest whatsoever in how men become Catholic priests -- especially men who are embarking on the priesthood as a second career -- read this book!
I_Love_To_Read
I recommend this book to anyone interested in reading the stories of men in the 21st Century exploring public ministry in the Church.
D. Horan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on July 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I think I've read just about every book I've come across that deals with the Roman Catholic priesthood and seminary life and formation, or at least every popular book that has been released on the subject. As far as capturing seminary life from one who has experienced it both in the 1980's and 90's and can count among my closest friends people who have experienced it in the distant past, recent past and anywhere in between, I'd have to say that THE COLLAR is one of the best books written on the subject.

My guess is that there are a number of reasons why this is the case. Author Jonathan Englebert seems agenda free. He's not out to expose weak candidates, poor seminary systems, or write an exposé on seminaries filled with abnormal individuals who find themselves in a seminary setting. In some ways this could have been tempting, given the fact that Englebert interviewed his subjects during the academic year of 2002-2003 when the sexual abuse crisis was daily news and books such as OUR FATHERS and GOODBYE GOOD MEN were bestsellers. Instead he focuses solely on his subjects and their lives and Sacred Heart Seminary become the story. Englebert looks at a group of candidatures often forgotten: men who have had lives and careers and make a major change in their life's direction in pursuing priesthood. We see the ups and downs of seminary life, why the candidates chose to study for the priesthood, why some will be ordained and others will not.

For me, while the candidates were not all that similar to the people I studied with--most were around my age and had similar life experiences--I did see a seminary that was very close to the one I attended.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By sd hurley on April 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was quite impressed with THE COLLAR by first time author Jonathan Englert. It's a potent mix of solid research and great writing that really gets the reader inside the mind of today's seminarian. I wouldn't be surprised if this book launches more than a few vocations.

A really thrilling read
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Speak Truth To Power on April 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a product of many years of seminary training, beginning in high school, I could see it all come back in living color with this book. Isn't it sad that so many men enter and so many good men leave, with many referring to the years of training leading up to priesthood as "hell" and "something you just have to get through". This book captures the truth of that feeling, without sermonizing or trying to teach life lessons.

I was a bit surprised at the over emphasis on profiling formerly married men, and holding up the standard male image as something to be emulated in priesthood. No question these are true heterosexual men in this seminary. Any hint of gay men in this place is glanced over or sadly treated with disdain.

The book itself is quite good, portraying men struggling to make sense of the pull of vocation, and a seminary system and church bureaucracy rife with all the failings of any unchanging institution.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Charles Scribner on July 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Catholic priesthood has always stood apart from its Protestant and New Age counterparts because of its unique fusion of the mystical and the material, the magical and the mundane, ministry and majesty, sacrament and sacrifice; a generation ago Archbiship Sheen wrote from a lifetime of inside insights a late book titled "Those Mysterious Priests." Englert, a devout but clear-eyed journalist with a considerable touch of a poet, has taken the mystery into a new millennium, one beset by challenges, conflict, and decline not seen since the days of the Reformation. His refreshingly human, humane, and yet probing study of men who seek to embrace the challenge of a call to service and holiness offers fruitful reading by all who, whether Catholic, Protestant, agnostic, or any combination thereof, may thirst for answers to the very notion of 'vocation.' It reads like a novel, yet it enriches the reader with ideas and questions that resonate long after the final page is spent. It should win a Pulitzer Prize for craftmanship that matches the scope of its conception. An ideal marriage of substance and style that should be a model for courses in journalism, even within the most secular of ivy-clad walls. Also required reading for anyone who may hear the whisper of a higher call. Bravissimo!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By alienmama on June 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is worth every penny. I was very impressed by the breadth of the research. Englert clearly uses his background in immersion journalism to give us a new and eye-opening picture of seminary life in America. At a time where seminaries are so misunderstood by popular culture, this is a refreshing read. I would recommend this to any family curioius about the formation of priests today.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Unlike similar works, this book introduces you to men you might recognize. They had worldly lives, flaws and attachments. I found this to be an inspiring story of how common men could be something greater through service and sacrifice.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Goodfriend on July 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a great book. The high walls of the seminary have always enclosed a mysterious process to most of us. This book tells us how several seminarians thought and felt as they went through the process of becoming priests - - or of almost becoming priests. It is clearly the "real McCoy" - - nothing held back, and nothing exagerated. A documentary as readable as some of the best novels I have every read.
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