When Father Thomas Abernathy’s loneliness is compounded by the loss of a beloved pet, he conceives an idea for a social club for clergymen where they can play cards, have a few drinks, and socialize. He brings together a wellborn Methodist minister, a dogmatic Lutheran pastor, and an enigmatic, evangelical preacher. Father Tom soon finds the Lutheran pastor, Rev. Theo Swindberg assuming a preternatural place in his life. The man is nervous and doleful, and to learn what makes him tick, Father Tom attends a service at the Lutheran Church, where he falls under the spell of the pastor’s wife, Naomi. When Naomi is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, Swindberg calls upon Father Tom to pray over her healing, a request which could be a career-ending departure from Father Tom’s church’s tenets. Father Tom struggles with his feelings for Naomi, and when he reluctantly agrees to Swindberg’s request, he also finds himself struggling with his faith. In the end it is faith, hope, and love that renews them all.
Praise for St. Michael Poker and Drinking Club
St. Michael Poker and Drinking Club is a look into the lives of a handful of clergymen chosen by an unlikely hero, Father Thomas of St. Michael’s. The unusual pairing for ongoing poker games is an attempt on Father Tom’s part to alleviate some measure of the inevitable loneliness associated with men of the cloth. Randle skillfully pulls us into the psyche of these honorable, albeit flawed men. The innocent attempt at fellowship takes a turn when Father Tom becomes infatuated with a fellow poker playing clergyman’s wife. We slowly learn about what really makes these men tick, and perhaps understanding them better helps us understand, with greater clarity, our own motivations where right versus wrong and good versus bad. Ultimately, Randle unravels our inner fears about love, hope, and faith while masterfully weaving a tale regarding the complexities of each intricate and life altering concept.
– Kathryn Mattingly, award winning author of novels Benjamin, Journey, Olivia’s Ghost, The Tutor, and short story anthology Fractured Hearts
I loved the touching scene in the opening paragraph and was pulled in. Seen through the caring eyes of Father Tom, the world of St. Michael Poker & Drinking Club is painstakingly detailed, precise – enveloping. The many layers of each character are laid bare as though done by a skilled surgeon. Readers join these people at the card table and feel the heat of the story.
– Michael Loyd Gray, author of The Armageddon Two-Step, The Canary, and Exile on Kalamazoo Street
St. Michael Poker & Drinking Club is a contemplative and ultimately hopeful story exploring what happens when a lonely Catholic priest, desperate to avoid sinking into melancholy, gathers a group of clergymen to play cards. With unflinching honesty and touches of wry humor, Ned Randle deftly draws us close to heartsick Father Tom Abernathy as he and his new acquaintances learn more about each other. When illness strikes, they confront hard truths about themselves and their ordained place in the world.
– Heather Bell Adams, author of Maranatha Road