Controversial Greeley, novelist and sociologist, dies

Fr. Andrew Greeley

Fr. Andrew Greeley

June 10, 2013

Father Andrew Greeley, a Chicago archdiocesan priest and well-known novelist, journalist and sociologist, died May 29 at his home in Chicago. He was 85 years old.

Greeley was perhaps most widely recognized for the more than 60 novels he wrote, some considered scandalous with their portraits of hypocritical and sinful clerics.

But he also wrote more than 70 works of nonfiction, often on the sociology of religion, including 2004's Priests: A Calling in Crisis.

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 Father Greg Sakowicz, who was pastor of the parish in Chicago where Greeley filled in at weekend Masses for many years.

"His Masses were very personal," the priest said. "Families with young children loved his Masses, because they almost had a backyard picnic flavour to them, it was so personal and warm."

On the other hand, Sakowicz said, people who prefer their liturgy to have more structure did not enjoy them so much, but that was all right with Greeley.

"You either loved him, or you just shook your head," Sakowicz said.

Greeley wrote a syndicated column that ran in many Catholic newspapers, including the WCR, in the 1970s and early '80s.