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Hailed by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book of 2010, Vestments is the bracing tale of a young man caught between faith, family, and his love for a woman from the past.

Let me begin today, illumined by Thy light, to destroy this part of the natural man which lives in me in its entirety, the obstacle that constantly keeps me from Thy love. James Dressler recites this prayer, taught to him as a boy, when he’s tempted by earthly desires. But intimacy is not easily denied. Originally drawn to the priesthood by the mystery, purity, and sensual fabric of the Catholic Church, as well as by its promise of a safe harbor from his violent father, James finds himself—just a few years after his ordination—attracted again to his first love, Betty García. Torn between these competing loves, and haunted by his father’s heritage, James finds himself at a crossroads.

Exploring age-old and yet urgently contemporary issues in the Church, and infused throughout by a rich sense of the history and vibrant texture of Saint Paul, Vestments is an utterly honest and subtly lyrical novel.

Publish Date
5.5 × 8.5 × 1.13 in
19.5 oz

Praise and Prizes

  • “In this potent debut … John Reimringer has crafted a suspenseful, illuminating, and highly readable saga… . Reimringer excels, most notably, at revealing how the sensual delectations of Catholic ritual and the forbidden delights of the flesh are part of the same continuum, as sin and repentance feed off each other.”

    Publishers Weekly
    *starred review*
  • “Deeply rooted in history, burning with family furies, and told by a narrator-priest you find yourself rooting for (and wondering about), this is a captivating novel, scene by scene.”

    Patricia Hampl
    author of The Florist’s Daughter
  • “A plainspoken but finely tuned debut novel … James Dressler is full-blooded in a way fictional priests so often aren’t, and he stars in an admirably complex study of family ties.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • Vestments is the fitting one-word title for this engrossing debut novel by John Reimringer and the insider’s glimpse it offers into the life and loves of a contemporary priest, James (Jim) Dressler, and his struggles with the black garb and white collar of his calling.”

    America: The Catholic Weekly
  • “Through his thoughtful themes and lyrical prose, John Reimringer effortlessly restores a measure of dignity to the priesthood even as he pays tender homage to the working-class roots of St. Paul.”

  • “[An] intensely personal debut novel … Holden Caulfield meets Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds with some Bukowski on the side, this is a compelling tale that provides a little-seen, interior, first-person point of view of the priesthood.”

    Library Journal
  • “A stunning debut—compelling, sharp, and rich with layers of history, family, religion, love, and everything that can wedge itself between.”

    ForeWord Reviews