Father Andrew Greeley was among the closest of my close brothers in the priesthood and was a wonderful friend and mentor.
Since his arrival in Tucson to teach in the sociology department at the University of Arizona in the mid-1970s, Father Greeley developed a vital relationship with Our Mother of Sorrows Parish. He assisted with the weekend Mass schedule for many years during his winter sojourn in Tucson.
During those many years as a teaching professor, he was among his peers in sociology, nationally and internationally, and was highly esteemed for his scholarship and research. His sociological research in the area of Catholic-school education was groundbreaking in its validation of the long-term effect of Catholic-school education on its students.
His voluminous output as a novelist and writer was amazing - in the range of 5,000 words a day. Some years ago, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago described Father Greeley's storytelling in his novels as a "project for re-evangelizing the Catholic imagination."
Andy regarded the readership of his publications as his parish. He had the greatest love for the living tradition of the Catholic heritage, and his scholarship on the Catholic religious imagination will surely be a significant part of his legacy.
For many years he was a prophetic voice in the midst of rank institutionalism and clericalism in the Catholic Church. He prized his role as Andrew Greeley, the parish priest, as the No. 1 role among his many other roles and functions.
He had a great love for Ireland and, as an Irish-American, was in some ways more Irish than the Irish. He had twinkling, dancing blue eyes, and his creative genius mind often spoke through those eyes. His dancing eyes were quite expressive of the Irish song, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."
Andy loved the image of the church as the "people of God" and he was the strongest possible advocate for the rights of the faithful within the entire "people of God" image. He was a passionate, prophetic voice for the role of women in all ministries.
I now greet my dear brother, friend and mentor with an Irish blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rain fall soft upon your fields.
Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
• What: Memorial Mass will be celebrated for the Rev. Andrew Greeley, who died May 30.
• When: 7 p.m. Thursday.
• Where: Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, 1800 S. Kolb Road.
• Et cetera: A memorial plaque will be unveiled in the vestibule to honor and acknowledge Greeley and his contributions, in particular, woodcarvings of St. Brendan, St. Bridget and St. Joan of Arc. Greeley commissioned the three pieces, displayed in the vestibule, by the Philadelphia woodcraft artist, the late Robert McGovern. The icons of St. Patrick and St. Bridget in the church's Cenacle Chapel also were gifts to the parish from Greeley.
Monsignor Tom Cahalane is pastor at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, omosparish.org