Title: Celibate: A Memoir
Author: Maria Giura
Publisher: Apprentice House
When twenty-eight-year-old Maria Giura fell in love with Catholic priest Father James Infanzi, she had no idea how needy they both were nor how complicated their relationship would become. His attention seemed to fill the void left by her fractured family, but he also seemed to be a sign for her to finally face the vocation she’d been running from for years. Celibate focuses on her ten-year struggle to let go of this priest, to heal from her childhood, and to embrace her true calling. Fiercely honest and tender, this memoir is ultimately a story about surrender, forgiveness, and facing one’s deepest needs.
Excerpt (from Chapter 3):
One night when Father James and I were on the phone, he said, “Maria, my friends call me James.” I clutched the receiver and said excitedly, “Okay, James.” Then a few nights later, he said, “I have feelings for you.” I was sitting in my kitchen where the crackling sound of baseboard heat and the ticking of the clock were suddenly amplified. When I finally opened my mouth, the only word that came out was, “Yes.” He hesitated, waiting for me to say more, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to say something I didn’t mean. I was afraid of where I was allowing this to go, but also happy, as if I’d just acquired a new boyfriend. After that night, we spoke long and often. I casually told my friends Silvia and Kara that I was becoming friends with my parish priest and how nice it was to have someone to confide in, though I said nothing about the religious calling that I felt. Kara said, “That’s really nice, girlie,” before she bounced to the next topic. Silvia was just as unfazed. In fact, she offered to go out with the two of us. I didn’t realize it, but she didn’t agree with mandatory celibacy. She didn’t understand why a man couldn’t serve the Church and a family and had been deeply perplexed when Meggie and Father de Bricassart in The Thorn Birds didn’t wind up happily ever after. Within a couple of weeks, I made a dinner reservation for the three of us on the first Saturday in February.
When I opened my front door, James was standing tall against the night sky, the two of us in jackets too lightweight for winter, my heart beating thickly in my chest. We hugged our waist-up hug and then got in his car. On the way to Silvia’s, he played Kenny Loggins’ “Return to Pooh Corner.” “You have to hear the whole thing. It just gets cuter,” he said, as Amy Grant’s singing and the sound of children’s giggling began. I wanted to laugh—I’d never known a grown man who liked such a song—but it was also sweet, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. When he asked if I liked it, I said, “Very much.” Then as he braked at a red light and Loggins sang, “…a few precious things seem to follow throughout all our lives,” it was as if the moments of the previous fourteen months lodged in my heart. The Advent Concert when his elbow hit me right before “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”; our three hour lunch the day of my 28th birthday; exchanging our first Christmas gifts at the diner; feeling like a team on the altar when I lectored; our phone calls growing from five minutes to an hour. I ignored my conscience and misgivings as I leaned my head on his arm. He sighed, “Oh, Maria,” and inched closer to me.
I’m one of the authors participating in the Bookaholics Unite Giveaway and you can win a print copy of Celibate: A Memoir (US only).
Runs May 1 - June 3 and is open internationally for most prizes.
Winner will be drawn on June 4, 2020.
Maria Giura is the author of Celibate: A Memoir and What My Father Taught Me, which was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Book Prize. Her writing has appeared in several journals including Prime Number, Presence, Italian Americana, Lips, Ovunque Siamo, Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival, Lips, and Tiferet. She has won awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Center for Women Writers and was a judge for the Lauria/ Frasca Poetry Award. She has taught Literature and Writing at St. John’s University, Montclair State University, and Binghamton University where she received her PhD in English. She lives in NYC. https://www.mariagiura.com/celibate-a-memoir.html
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