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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

CHICAGO (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 2005.

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 placement.

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 homily.

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.

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