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.”