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Chester County Press

Kennett Library board member publishes first novel

12/12/2017 01:35PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

It is 2005, and Father Michael Domani is enduring a life crisis.
A man of complex dichotomies, he is beholden to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the principles of his faith and the lives of his parishioners, and yet he struggles mightily with the vows he has made. From his sacred place on the altar and in private, Father Michael rails against tired traditions, calling for the modernization of a church that has, to him, held firm to centuries-old customs and beliefs.
This is the story that is PassionTide, the first novel by New Garden Township resident James Diluzio. From start to finish, the book takes readers on the conundrum roller coaster of Father Michael's strengths and weaknesses, his search for redemption, and his resolve to make sense of his place in the world.
Published by Dorrance Publishing, PassionTide does not keep the Catholic church away from how it impacts -- and is impacted by -- such issues as opening the doors to priesthood to women, relationships, infidelity, the war in Iraq, substance abuse, reconciliation and redemption.
Although PassionTide is Diluzio's first novel, the published book represents his third version of it. He began writing a form of the novel 30 years ago, at a time when he was choosing to leave his position as a parish priest in order to pursue a career in child-welfare social services, marry, and raise a family.
“My first attempt was purely autobiographical, but I didn't like that,” Diluzio said prior to a public reading he gave at the Kennett Library, where he serves on its board of directors. “I then began approaching it in terms of a documentary style of writing, but I realized that neither of these forms was right for me.”
Three years ago, Diluzio picked up the project again, but this time, he decided to fictionalize the story, which allowed him to be more creative with the flow of the story and remove himself from sticking with the hard, cold facts. In sketching the character of Michael Domani, Diluzio chose the name Michael because it means “the one who is like God,” and Domani, which is the Italian word for “tomorrow.”
“That became important to me, because the themes in the book are that while we're supposed to be like God, we are also given to our human nature, so while it is our aspiration to become like God, it may not happen today,” he said.
Diluzio is currently writing the sequel to PassionTide. Entitled PassionPlay, the second novel picks up where the first left off -- the tipping point Father Michael reaches that forces him to decide whether or not to remain a priest.
If there is a central theme that runs through PassionTide, Diluzio said, it is pride.
“Michael thought he was ready for the priesthood, and when he got challenged, he failed,” he said. “As we know from our [Catholic] education, virtue isn't virtue until it is tested. Michael's kind of failure happens on many levels, in marriages, in politics, so the idea of failure is very important in human life to face and also ask, 'Where does that failure come from?'
“Dante spoke about 'pride' as the greatest sin, and I agree with him. I agree that everything that happens follows from pride, including lust, and Father Michael embodies pride and lust. Not virtues, but two of the capital sins. The challenge for him is to work through that.”
PassionTide is available from Dorrance Publishing's online bookstore (, from, and at Barnes & Noble (print on demand). To have Diluzio sign your copy of PassionTide, contact him at [email protected].

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected] .