Priests: The Guise and the Guys Behind the Collar captures the diverse personalities of over 20 Catholic priests in a novel born out of the experiences and perceptions of Monsignor Gaston A. Hebert over his 54 years in the priesthood. During that time he served as a teacher, pastor, vicar general, and diocesan administrator in the Diocese of Little Rock. By his realistic portrayal of priests sans halos or horns, he conveys insight into the joys and sorrows, challenges and temptations, successes and failures found in every priest's life. As the priests struggle through their own character flaws, they also combat the changes in the Church and in society from 1960 to the present. Situations evolve encompassing the seven major vices; racial, ethnic, and religious prejudice; addiction; abortion; sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, pedophilia, incest; the Vietnam War and clericalism, within the historical context of the period. To describe the novel as Christian fiction might be misleading as it is not saccharin and is rarely didactic, seeking rather to portray the clergy as real men, tempted and flawed like all humanity, but driven to serve God. It is unlikely the reader could complete the novel without recognizing both the good and bad character traits of priests and ministers he may have known, as well as his own. The author holds degrees in philosophy and English; taught English and Drama for 15 years at Catholic High School in Little Rock, Arkansas; was pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Pocahontas, Arkansas, for six years; was pastor of the then-largest parish in Arkansas, Christ the King Church, in Little Rock, for 20 years; was vicar general from 1988 to 2006, and then became the administrator of the diocese for two years. He was named a protonotary apostolic by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. He published The Faux Bishop's Gems in 2009, based on a series of his essays previously published in The Arkansas Catholic.
Interesting. Moving. Insightful. Important for us to realize that we are all God's children and worthy of mercy and understanding... even our wonderful priests. The stories are compelling and the narration is captivating.