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The last 20 years haven’t been so hot for Catholic priests. Sex-abuse scandals from New Orleans to Boston have proved that the whole pedophilia thing doesn’t play out too well. There are struggles in upper management—the death of the beloved (if unflinchingly conservative) John Paul II last year led to the election of the less beloved (and Darth Sidious–resembling) Benedict XVI. To top it all off, a few days ago in Mexico, a priest admitted that he had butchered his pregnant lover. Those who wish their favored spiritual guides got more balanced press will want to check out Jonathan Englert’s The Collar: A Year of Striving and Faith Inside a Catholic Seminary. Englert follows the “process of priestly formation” in the lives of five would-be men of God at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Milwaukee, the nation’s largest institution for second-career priests. The Collar isn’t an objective work of journalism: As a converted Catholic, Englert’s narrative is the “direct response to a plea for vocations” in a religion that, since 1965, has grown by 40 percent while its seminary population has shrunk by 25 percent. Still, the author’s humanistic portrait of a diverse group of men is a compelling read, even for those who wouldn’t know the difference between a Joyful and a Luminous Mystery if their dispensation from serving time in purgatory depended on it. Englert reads from his book at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1307 19th St. NW. Free. (202) 785-1133. (Justin Moyer)