Andrew Greeley Update

Andrew M. GreeleyI 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 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.

“Dear Philip,

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.

15 Responses to “Andrew Greeley Update”

  1. Elaine Lindberg Says:

    I do so hope that Father Greeley has spent the last two years in the Chicago he created, surrounded by all of the wonderful people he envisioned, living in that alternate reality of those characters. And I know Father Blackie will be there at the end to help him cross over.

  2. Kathleen M. (Murray) Splinter Says:

    I will pray for Fr. Greeley. I have read most of his books & enjoyed every one of them. Funny that some in the heirarchy of the church found his writings disturbing. I saw in them a glimpse of the divinity that is a part of us all. His writings allowed me to become comfortable with the idea that God loves us all as we are His children, not just when we ‘follow the rules’. Anyway, God bless Fr. Andrew & keep him close but not too close.

  3. Timothea Kingston Says:

    Whether one likes/dislikes, approve/disapproves of a person’s writing style or verbal expression of opinion, one is always grateful to be challenged to one’s own convictions, likes, dislikes, etc. I have experienced various thoughts about Father Greeley’s word and work, but always appreciate that he makes me examine my own stance on value/moral/spiritual matters. I have just now become knowledgeable of his situation and will certainly pray for him and all those who are caring for him.

  4. Roy White Says:

    I imagine Father Greeley would be a challenging, sometimes exasperating, but always a loyal friend; the kind of friend who has the courage to tell you that you are full of it…when you are. This is the kind of friend I cherish most of all–one who is willing to give as good as he takes; a friend who likely would be willing to walk with you in times of joy and times of struggle. The best I can do is try to be that kind of friend to others. Sort of inspired by the ultimate friend. What a friend we have…

  5. love song andrew m. greeley Says:

    [...] The Wandering Heretic » Blog Archive » Andrew Greeley Update [...]

  6. Kay O'Brien Says:

    Andrew Greeley, in his writings, has given us such a beautiful vision of what human love – and divine love – is all about. May he be surrounded by the loving care of those he loves.
    Kay O’Brien

  7. jeff Says:

    Weather you like him or not, he was are teriffic writer. He really inspires me.

  8. Scott Walker Says:

    Joe, Are you still there? Just wondering?

  9. Caine Says:

    Yes, Scott. I am still here.. I am not at Minitrac anymore, but I am still here monitoring this site.

  10. Laura Durkin Says:

    Thank you all for the kind wishes and prayers for my Uncle. I thought you might be interested in this nice segment that the PBS show, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly did on Uncle. They are very nice people!

  11. Caine Says:

    Thank you, Laura, for your reply and comments. Your Uncle is a very special man and our heartaches and prayers remain with him.

  12. John Neville Says:

    Andrew Greeley’s novels have been a wonderful part of my life. His sense of place, of home–be it a family, a city, or a church–is so strong that he always reminds me in a heartfelt way to appreciate my home and also why I am Catholic. “Home for Christmas” seems the ideal title for his last novel. God bless him.

  13. Lindsay Says:

    I have never agreed with much of Father Greeley’s theology. I have not read his novels. I found his sociological work interesting and sometimes infuriating. I am sorry to hear about his injury. It is a tragedy. I will say some prayers for him.

  14. Brian Johnson Says:

    Here is a view from across the border. Father Greeley is a credit to our catholic church through his wonderful novels. Through his characters and his immense writing talent, he has given us an insight to the private world of the catholic parish priest. A man standing alone while the hierarchy outlines his life while at the same time he is expected to be an infallible guide to his parish solving endless problems on his own. Problems dealing with family issues, marriage, abortion, divorce on a high end scale. Are his views and guidance right? What comforts and guidance are left for him at the end of his day?
    HERE is to the type of Parish Priest I wish we all had.
    Thoughts and prayers to you, Father, and to your family!

  15. Kate Russell Says:

    Dear Fr Greeley

    I have only recently come across your incendiary novels (Virgin and Martyr; Ascent into hell) and yourself as a personality and I would say I like you very much, as well as your outspokenness, brilliance, honesty and courage. I am so sorry you suffered at the end of your life, and can only hope that God has since made it up to you and shown the reasons for that suffering.
    ‘Heretic’ I think not. Just a deep thinker, unafraid to be unconventional and ‘go out on a limb,’ the best place to be in God’s eyes.

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