I made a tribute post to the author/priest/sociologist Andrew M. Greeley almost two years ago now after his accident. Greeley was a huge influence in my life and remains so through his books and articles.
Well, for some time after that, people wrote comments asking for updates on Fr. Greeley’s condition. I have had no personal contact with Fr. Greeley for almost 10 years, but I do keep dibs on the internet traffic. So I guessed his condition was not good, and that his Christmas novel issued last year was going to be his last. But it was a guess.
I am very mortified to find out that I was probably correct. Phil Potempa, a gentleman who writes an Entertainment column has been in contact with Fr. Greeley’s assistant. I reproduce his article on that conversation here:
There has been very little news to share about this unfortunate accident. But I’m happy to provide as much updated information as possible. Greeley’s website at agreeley.com hasn’t been updated since the early spring. However, his personal assistant Roberta Wilk was kind enough to share the latest, which I’ve included here.
Thank you for your nice note and well wishes for Fr. Greeley. I will forward your e-mail to his family, and make sure Fr. Greeley sees it, too. We go over his mail together about twice a week. And, I assure you he will enjoy reading yours. I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. There has really been little change in Fr. Greeley’s health status. He has physical therapy twice a week, and seems to be progressing on that count. But the traumatic brain injury he sustained back in November of 2008 was very, very severe, and I sadly report there’s been no change here.
- – Roberta Wilk, assistant”
This is all I have to share.
While on the mend in Chicago, he is also being cared for by his nieces and nephews.
Wilk is the priest’s assistant at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Greeley is a research associate at the National Opinion Research Center and is also professor of sociology at the University of Arizona, where he had been teaching one semester a year.
For readers unfamiliar with 82-year-old Greeley’s Nov. 7, 2008 accident, the bestselling novelist was exiting a taxi at the Rosemont CTA Blue Line train station to return to his home downtown after speaking at an academic conference.
His jacket got stuck on the door as the taxi driver pulled away, according to the Rosemont police spokesman. Greeley fractured his skull and left orbital bone near his eye, according to his friend and attorney Terry Goggin and he was in critical condition when he arrived at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where doctors used CT scans and installed a device in his skull to monitor pressure on his brain, since he had suffered head injuries from the fall.
After a two-month hospital stay, including time at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), he returned home to continue what his family describes as “intensive therapy for traumatic brain injury.”
Greeley, born and raised in Oak Park, Ill., has written more than 120 books and is famous for his outspoken views. His willingness to frequently appear on the talk shows of Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey discussing what his fellow priests deemed “sensitive subjects” has at times agitated church officials.
In 1986, the Archdiocese of Chicago refused a $1 million donation by Greeley from his book sales.
However, in 2003, they did accept a similar donation for nearly half a million.
His last book, just sent off prior to his accident, is a 192-page hardcover titled “Home for Christmas” (Forge Books $14.99) a novel about a soldier named Peter, on his third deployment in Iraq, who becomes injured and finds himself both alive and dead on a wondrous spiritual journey where he is given a second chance at life from God Himself.”
So Greeley’s mental condition remains unimproved in almost two years time. I grieve a world that allows such brilliance to be lost to us. Please continue to pray for this amazing priest and human being.