ARCHDIOCESAN PRIEST, REV. ANDREW M. GREELEY, DIES
Served South Side Parishes as Assistant Pastor for 38 Years
Recognized and Honored Social Researcher and Writer
Works Include Scholarly and Popular Fiction Novels and Studies
(May 30, 2013) – Rev. Andrew M. Greeley, nationally recognized
sociologist, author and commentator, died Thursday, May 30, 2013. He was 85
years of age and a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 59 years. He had
been dealing with the results of a 2008 accident that greatly curtailed his physical
and academic activities. His work in researching issues of sociology and religion
gave him a unique point of view that reflected concerns of Catholics, not all of
whom readily agreed with his comments and writings.
Fr. Greeley was born in Oak Park, Illinois on February 5, 1928. He was the
oldest and only son in an Irish Catholic family that included two younger sisters.
He graduated from St. Angela elementary school, Quigley Preparatory Seminary and
the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary. He was ordained
by Cardinal Stritch in 1954.
He was the assistant pastor of Christ the King Parish on the southwest side from
1954 to 1964. During that time, he completed MA and Ph.D. degrees in 1961
and 1962 respectively, at the University of Chicago. He also completed a post-doctoral
fellowship between 1962 and 1963, the year he was named senior study director of
the National Opinion Research Center (N.O.R.C.) and lecturer in Sociology of Religion
at the University of Chicago, assignments that became full time in 1965. From
1964 to 1965, Fr. Greeley served as assistant pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish
on Chicago’s south side.
Fr. Greeley also wrote five books during this period that were published by Sheed
and Ward. They included: The Church and the Suburbs (1959); Strangers
in the House (1961); Religion and Career (1963); Young Men Shall See
Visions (1964); and Letters to Nancy (1964).
In 1966, he wrote with Peter H. Rossi, The Education of Catholic Americans,
published by Aldine Press. He was a prolific writer not only of books that
treated sociological issues particularly relating to religion, but of articles as
well and more than 50 novels that were extremely popular in the U.S. and abroad.
In 1969, Fr. Greeley began an assignment as assistant pastor at another south side
parish, St. Ambrose that lasted 17 years. Fr. Greeley celebrated his 50th
anniversary as a priest in 2004, just after the publication of
The Catholic Revolution: New Wine in Old Wineskins and the Second Vatican Council
in2003, and just before Priests: A Calling in Crisis was published
In February 2003, Fr. Greeley gifted Catholic schools in the Archdiocese with $420,000
to bolster the newly established Catholic Schools Endowment Fund, created by the
Office for Catholic Schools to provide scholarship money for the increasing number
of students whose families could not afford tuition.
During many presentations he gave during events in the Archdiocese, Fr. Greeley
spoke honestly about the Church, Catholics, and women. Opening a lecture series
at Loyola University in 2003, Fr. Greeley had something to say about Catholics and
their loyalty to the church, “Catholics remain Catholic not because of anything
the bishops do, but simply because they like being Catholic—despite the best
efforts of some ‘intellectuals’ to destroy ‘the sense of story
and mystery’ that has always made the church the church.”
And about women in the church he added, “It also doesn’t help that so
many church leaders have been downplaying the role of Mary,” said Greeley.
Blaming the shift in attitude at least partly, he continued, “I don’t
think the church as an institution or most of us who are priests respect and reverence
women the way we ought to.”
In 2004, in the closing presentation to the six-day Social Justice Summer institute,
Fr. Greeley told a group of Catholic social justice workers gathered in Chicago,
“Our church is a mess, society’s a mess, everything’s a mess.
What a wonderful opportunity. In a chaotic church, in a greedy country, social action
remains challenging and often frustrating. But, gentle souls, it never has been,
and never will be, dull.”
Fr. Greeley was the recipient of the 2006 Campion award given at America House in
New York City. The Award was named after St. Edmund Campion, a Jesuit who was put
to death in London in 1581 for refusing to deny his faith or his priesthood, and
pays tribute to those same qualities in modern authors. America magazine
was one of several publications to which Fr. Greeley contributed.
His last book, published in 2010, entitled, Chicago Catholics and the Struggles
Within Their Church, included results of a 2007 telephone survey of
Catholics living in the Archdiocese. As much as he supplied a statistical foundation
for looking at the church, Fr. Greeley also reflected a softer side in encouraging
Catholics in their faith.
As reported by Michelle Martin in the Catholic New World, in an October,
2000 workshop he presented during the annual Chicago Catechetical Conference, Fr.
Greeley said that the Catholic Church in the United States needs to open its doors
to beauty—especially the beauty of Catholic tradition. “The beauty of
the Catholic heritage, flawed as it is, attracts, enchants and will not let people
go, no matter how hard they try to escape it,” said Greeley. “Teachers
and catechists should expose their students to the beauty in the church and in the
world because beauty illumines God’s grace and beauty transforms people, providing
real moments of conversion.”
According to Fr. John Cusick, a good friend and fellow Chicago priest, above all
else Fr. Greeley wanted to be remembered as a priest, and a priest of Chicago.
Fr. Greeley also wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times and was a contributor
to other national newspapers and Catholic magazines. He was Professor of Social
Sciences at the University of Arizona in addition to holding the same title at the
University of Chicago.
He served as president of the American Catholic Sociological Association, associate
editor of Review of Religious Research, editorial board member for Sociological
Analysis and senior consultant for CARA, a collaborative partnership of
Chicago-based not-for-profit agencies dedicated to a workforce development and job
Visitation for Fr. Greeley will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4,
and from 9:30 a.m. until 12 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5 at Christ the King Church,
9235 South Hamilton Avenue in Chicago. Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop
of Chicago, will be the main celebrant at the funeral Mass for Fr. Greeley at noon
on Wednesday, June 5, at Christ the King Church. Rev. John Cusick will preach the
Interment is private. Fr. Greeley is survived by his sister, Mary Jule Durkin, and nieces
and nephews, Laura Durkin, Julie Montegue, Eileen Durkin, John Durkin, Daniel Durkin,
Anne Durkin, and Elizabeth Durkin.