Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Begin With Me

by Mike Ryan

      Many of us have struggled with major changes in our lives, and turned to spirituality or faith to guide us through troublesome times. But Matt takes his life changes to extremes! Losing his job and his long-term girlfriend in one week, he returns to his childhood Catholic faith - with a whole new twist. Discovering that a local parish church needs an injection of new blood, in the guise of a priest on short term loan from Ireland, he passes himself off as Father Phillip McGorty. Moving into the rectory, and taking on the mantle of priest, he performs mass, takes confession and becomes immersed in the life of the parish families.

Matt/Phillip's big love is baseball. As his story unfolds, glimpses of his fatherless childhood are shown, along with his own positive experience with a sports-loving young priest. There is no priest-scandal in this novel, although the 21st century problems in the priesthood and the Catholic church are addressed by author Mike Ryan. Instead, the book evolves around not only Matt/Phillip's search for answers for his own life, but the positive and constructive force of an attentive ministry with kids that becomes part of who Matt becomes.

As the story evolves, the reader sees the ongoing struggle Matt/Phil has with what he is doing, the ethics of pretending to be a priest and his growing feelings for a parishioner and her son. His own past intertwines with his present, and he realizes that he has to make a decision, and fast! The ending is somewhat predictable, but the story is full of hope and encouragement, and so keeps the reader's attention to the very end.

The Book

Whiskey Creek Press
January 1, 2006
Ebook / Paperback
More at

The Reviewer

Laura Strathman Hulka
Reviewed 2007
© 2006