They came from all over the United States, the widower and the ex-marine, the blind musician and the septuagenarian; they left behind beloved dogs, good jobs, and ex-wives; they kissed their children, sold their businesses, and stored their stuff; then they arrived at the Sacred Heart of Theology seminary near Milwaukee, Wisconsin to begin their new lives as seminarians.
Under the capable shepherding of Father Jim Brackin, the rector of Sacred Heart, and the rest of the staff, these new “second-career” seminarians will not only take rigorous academic classes in preparation for their Master’s of Divinity, but they will also be immersed in pastoral fieldwork and nurture their spiritual formation. If they can trust the seminary process that will test their call, if they can give up control over their lives and learn self-denial, if they can make it through the academic and spiritual challenges, then in approximately four years the seminarians will be ordained as priests.
In The Collar: A Year of Striving and Faith Inside a Catholic Seminary, Jonathan Englert presents an intimate portrait of five men who have sacrificed jobs, families, and personal lives to begin their journey toward priesthood. They will be tested spiritually and emotionally in this “boot camp” like no other, and in the end, only a few will wear the collar.