Remembering Andrew Greeley

The Rev. Andrew M. Greeley, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and well-known novelist, journalist and sociologist, died on May 29 at his home in Chicago’s John Hancock Center. He was 85 years old. Born in Oak Park, Ill., Father Greeley was ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 1954 and served as assistant pastor of Christ the King Parish from 1954 to 1963 while pursuing postgraduate studies in sociology at the University of Chicago. In later years, he taught sociology both at the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona. He worked with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago from 1982 until an accident in 2008 in which his coat caught on the door of a taxicab, leading to a fall that caused a traumatic brain injury.

Father Greeley was perhaps most widely recognized for the more than 60 novels he wrote, some considered scandalous because of their portraits of hypocritical and sinful clerics. But he also wrote more than 70 works of nonfiction, many of them on the sociology of religion, including Priests: A Calling in Crisis (2004). The title notwithstanding, the research he presented in that book found that priests are among the happiest men in the United States—a conclusion that mirrored his own experience. “Andy loved being a priest, and he spoke very positively about the priesthood,” said the Rev. Greg Sakowicz, who was pastor of St. Mary of the Woods Parish in Chicago for many of the years when Father Greeley helped with weekend Masses there. “His Masses were very personal,” he said. “Families with young children loved his Masses because they almost had a backyard picnic flavor to them, [they were] so personal and warm.”

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Bruce Snowden
5 years 1 month ago
Briefly I have to admit that I always had a hard time tuning into Fr. Greeley and it hasn't helped to read the following that he said. "We are born with two incurable diseases, LIFE from which we die and HOPE which says, maybe death isn't the end." If Life is a "disease" why do Pro Life people knock themselves out defending it? And if Hope is just a "maybe" why does St. Paul call Faith "evidence of things not seen." The word "evidence" rooted in Faith should make Hope a well-grounded expectation, since "evidence" is something you can see, touch.aste, smell - reallly real. I just don't know if Fr. Greeley was a painful and annoying pebble in Jesus' (the Church's) sandal. Or that he was a powerful roving binocular focusing on the cuts, bruises, boils, pimples and deep wounds on the Body of Christ, the Church, longterm beneficial to her. No matter what, may he rest in peace.
5 years 1 month ago
What a sad day for me and the Church (who wants to meet the real needs of the People of God) when Andrew Greeley left this world. Yes, he was a 'thorn in the side of the hierarchy, a life long crusader against the rigid canon lawyers and "mitered birdbrains" who turned his beloved Catholic church into a fortress against the modern world, rather than a community of grace and celebrations.' (The Economist) God Bless and may you rest in peace, Fr. Greeley. Please encourage the Holy Spirit to get busy and help us to recognize his positive works.
Craig McKee
5 years 1 month ago
I love this Greeley quote: "For the last 30 years," he once wrote, "the hierarchy and the clergy have done just about everything they could to drive the laity out of the church and have not succeeded. It seems unlikely that they ever will drive the stubborn lay folk out of the church because the lay folk like being Catholic!" Color me STUBBORN!


The latest from america

So what does it matter what a celibate woman thinks about contraception?
Helena BurnsJuly 20, 2018
Former US President Barack Obama gestures to the crowd, during an event in Kogelo, Kisumu, Kenya, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo Brian Inganga)
In Johannesburg, Obama gave what some commentators consider his most important speech since he vacated the Oval Office.
Anthony EganJuly 20, 2018
With his "Mass," Leonard Bernstein uses liturgy to give voice to political unease.
Kevin McCabeJuly 20, 2018
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, arrives for the Jan. 6 installation Mass of Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
Women often “bring up the voice of those who are the most vulnerable in our society,” says Hans Zollner, S.J., who heads the Centre for Child Protection in Rome.