These Thy Gifts ISBN: 9781503199880, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, an e-book by Vincent Panettiere.
The story line actually enfolds the lives of a number of interesting individuals – a dedicated priest, his mother and taxi driver father, a mob ‘sub-boss’, his beautiful wife, her daughter and later grandson, the ‘top mobster’, a monsignor, a bishop and numerous other characters, many quite significant to the story as it progresses through some fifty plus years. Steven Trimboli, the priest lives a hard life made more difficult by his desire to ‘take his vows very seriously’. He ministers to the poor and the downtrodden by converting an old storefront into a church, aids the taxi drivers in a strike against their employers who are attempting to reduce their pay and worse for a young acolyte, he does not accept many of the suggestions offered by his superiors. Thus his activities not only often are against the will and desires of his monsignor and bishop, but are considered to be somewhat naïve and embarrassing as well. As a result of their animosity, he is provided with the task of building a new church under impossible conditions where he is brought into contact with powerful mobsters, has a one-time sexual relationship with the wife of one of the lesser ‘bosses’, enlists as a chaplain in the Vietnam War hopefully as a way of partial atonement, and discovers personally a case of sexual abuse in his own parish at a time when it is causing blatant headlines throughout the country. His subsequent actions again run afoul of the church dignitaries.
The author has provided a most thought producing and really quite riveting look at a subject that has raised a large amount of controversy not only within the church itself, but by the public in general. Yet he has provided this material not as condemnatory per se, but rather in an empathetic manner that can elicit provocative reader’s reaction(s). The book is extremely well-written, moves at a great pace, has nicely formed characters, is well edited and is strongly recommended for all of these reasons plus, in this reviewer’s opinion, the sensitive manner in which the controversial subject has been presented. Nothing has been ‘glossed over’ but a reader can make his/her own evaluation.
5* Well-written, compelling and sensitively presented story.