THE STORY: Tongues have begun to wag about the handsome young parish priest Father Jerry Dolan, who has, so they say, been seeing quite a lot of a pretty young parishioner, Katie Cachenko, whom he has known since their school days, when both played in the CYO band. The rumors haven’t exactly been scotched by Millie Mullins, Father Dolan’s gossipy housekeeper who, with her romantically minded niece, Margaret, has kept all and sundry informed of each bit of possibly damaging grist for the rumor mill. And, as a matter of fact, the situation does seem ripe for trouble: Katie is suffocating in her marriage to Ralph, an insensitive, macho lout and former high school football star; and Father Dolan is suffering one of the identity crises that always beset him after he has seen a Woody Allen movie—gnawing doubts about “Who am I, and what am I doing here?” Things come to a head when Father Dolan dances with Katie six times at a reunion dance of the CYO Marching Band, leading to a tense, funny-serious confrontation with Katie’s incensed husband, Ralph, in the church vestry. Ending up in a hilarious wrestling match, the two men eventually realize that, at best, they are both behaving like silly kids—particularly in view of the fact that nothing really did, or probably could, happen between the committed priest and his vulnerable parishioner. And, as the play reaches its touching, bittersweet conclusion, it is clear that all concerned have gained, amid the general hilarity, a good bit of self-knowledge to help them weather future “disturbances” whether romantic or religious.
Filled with warm, perceptive humor and intriguing characterizations, the play brings a refreshingly light touch to a topic of serious consequence in our times—priestly celibacy and the doubts and distractions that can beset the vocation of the priesthood. “Hilarious and touching. Neary has an ear for one-liners and colloquial language.” —Boston Globe. “…zesty yet tasteful humor that gently tickles the funnybone.” —Lowell Sun. “TO FORGIVE, DIVINE—if I may be forgiven some divination of my own—is going to be for Neary what the popular The Foreigner has been for another comic playwright, Larry Shue—a gold mine.” —Boston Herald.