NC Literary Hall of Fame



...but few are chosen: A Different Path to Coming of Age by Michael Connolly, Richard Olive, and John Tuohey

Vandamere Press
$19.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-918339-83-6
June, 2018
Nonfiction: Memoir / Parenting
Available from the publisher or

"Compelling, plain-spoken account of growing up in 1950s America. Haunting and beautifully-written."
—William Klaber, author of The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell

"Connolly, Olive, and Tuohey have taken the ancient theme of coming of age and given it new and unique life…The boys’ homes are so full of loss and dysfunction that they find the rigidly austere but ordered life of the seminary a welcome safety and comfort--though in this rarefied atmosphere they are also growing up, 'lending ears to a siren song calling from the outside world.' The alternating narrators compliment each other and work as different lenses and mirrors through which the same story is seen. Richly detailed, at times deeply dramatic, and at times humorous or darkly ironic, this memoir is immensely readable, and will fascinate not only readers with a Catholic background but any who can identify with the elusive quest for self-esteem, respect, and the ability to forgive and move on in life—which is just about everybody."
—JamesTipton, Ph.D, author of Annette Vallon, A Novel of the French Revolution; SF Chronicle bestseller

"As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is ultimately inspired and inspiring, ...but few are chosen: A Different Path to Coming of Age is an extraordinarily engaging read from beginning to end. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, this 'Coming of Age' study is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library collections."
—Able Greenspan Reviewer, The Midwest Book Review

…but few are chosen is the story of three boys coming of age in the mid-1950s.

Growing up in working class Irish Catholic neighborhoods in the Northeastern United States, they are desperate to escape lives of loneliness, petty crime, and violence. At the age of thirteen, ready to enter high school, they each come to the same life changing, and possibly life-saving decision, to enter a seminary and begin their journeys toward the priesthood.

The book chronicles Mike, John, and Ollie’s fears, frustrations, hopes, and dreams while they proceed on their very unique path to adulthood via St. John’s Atonement Seminary in Montour Falls, New York. There, the three meet, eventually become lifelong friends, and begin the transition to being successful and contributing members of society.

Lives that would undoubtedly have ended poorly are turned around in the structured, orderly, caring, and predictable life of the seminary. For the first time the boys come to realize that life is more than just raised voices and clenched fists. Led by priests on the faculty they learn responsibility, restraint, patience, and concern for others. They develop determination without aggression, and apply their new-found abilities to study, sports, and relationships.

Mike Connolly graduated in 1965 from Lowell State College and became a high school English teacher. In 1968, Mike served as a chaplain’s assistant in Cui Chi, Vietnam. After the war, he returned to the United States and became a school principal. He worked for forty-two years in middle and high schools in the United States and in international schools in Thailand, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and Vietnam. He currently serves as a Eucharistic Minister, distributing Communion at All Saints Catholic Church in Hampstead, and at a local nursing home.

Mike is married and has four children. He is the author of three other books: What They Never Told Me in Principal’s School; Teaching Kids to Love Learning, Not Just Endure It; and Young Enough to Change the World: Stories of Kids and Teens Who Turned Their Dreams into Action (coauthored with his wife, Brie Goolbis). He and his wife Brie live in Hampstead.

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