Education: Bard College, B.A.; Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, M.A.; attended Fordham University School of Law.
Writer, journalist, and speechwriter. The Christophers (a nonprofit media organization), speechwriter.
The Collar: A Year of Striving and Faith inside a Catholic Seminary, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.
Contributor and editor for Three Minutes a Day, an annual book of reflections published by the Christophers. Contributor to periodicals such as Catholic Digest, Canoe & Kayak, and the New York Times.
Jonathan Englert is a journalist and speechwriter whose book The Collar: A Year of Striving and Faith inside a Catholic Seminary, chronicles the day-to-day lives of a group of hopeful priests as they undergo training at the Sacred Heart School of Theology, a seminary near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Englert, himself a convert to Catholicism, describes a year in the lives of five seminarians seeking to become "second-career" priests, older and more experienced men—average age: forty-five—who have already held jobs, pursued careers, and in some cases, married and raised families. The work is written in what Library Journal reviewer Denise J. Stankovics called "slice-of-life style." Among his subjects are a septuagenarian widower, a blind musician, a pair of middle-aged divorced men, and an ex-Marine. Englert delves into the details of the seminarians' daily lives, their education and training, their aspirations and fears, their struggles, their approach to the priesthood, and the forces that compelled them to take up the clerical lifestyle. "The seminarians are portrayed warts and all," observed a Kirkus Reviews critic, and Englert does not shy away from addressing difficulties they experience and personal issues they face, nor does he gloss over the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the church. Yet the stories are also inspiring in their careful descriptions of those who faced adversity with their choice and overcame the odds against them. Not all of Englert's subjects reach their final goal, but "readers will find his portrayal of priestly formation both compassionate and eye-opening," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer, concluding that the book "should be required reading" for those considering entering the priesthood.
In an interview with Bill McGarvey on BustedHalo.com, Englert described the priesthood and what the seminarians he studied could expect as they receive their assignments and join their new congregations. "The priesthood is an extremely social profession," Englert stated. "There's a misconception among the very religiously zealous that to be a priest you need to be very religiously zealous in almost a monastic sense. But priests have to interact with people all the time," Englert continued, noting that priests "need to be social, … to love people; … to be good with people.… You have to recognize you're not there for just your own kind of person. If you're not able to see beyond your own approach to Catholicism, you're not going to be a very good priest."
"In drawing his characters, Englert uses the tools of his trade well, offering details about daily life that at times can be a tad mind-numbing," remarked Tim Cuprisin in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Englert's "deft and balanced treatment" of the lives that are forged in a Catholic seminary is a "welcome window into the world where the church's clergy are prepared," commented reviewer Frederick W. Schmidt in the Dallas Morning News. The Kirkus Reviews critic concluded that Englert's book "puts a human face on the word 'priest.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dallas Morning News, June 10, 2006, Frederick W. Schmidt, review of The Collar: A Year of Striving and Faith inside a Catholic Seminary,
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2006, review of The Collar, p. 169.
Library Journal, March 1, 2006, Denise J. Stankovics, review of The Collar, p. 92.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 24, 2006, Tim Cuprisin, review of The Collar.
Publishers Weekly, January 30, 2006, review of The Collar, p. 64.