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Hundreds pay tribute to the Rev. Andrew Greeley

The Rev. Andrew Greeley | Sun-Times files

The Rev. Andrew Greeley | Sun-Times files

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Updated: July 7, 2013 1:06PM

A member of the 1960 eighth-grade graduating class at Christ the King Parish Church recalled how the Rev. Andrew Greeley encouraged her to imagine the possibility of women priests.

A grandniece shared that he abhorred war and prayed for peace.

While the Rev. John Cusick of Old St. Patrick’s Church compared him with Joan of Arc and not so jokingly encouraged that he be considered for sainthood.

As hundreds gathered at the funeral mass and visitation for Father Greeley Wednesday, Father Cusick reflected on the life on the outspoken priest, author, sociologist, and former Chicago Sun-Times columnist. And Cusick shared the lessons he learned from him while using the occasion as a call to action.

“Andy taught me that … the most contemporary of sins is one of the oldest of sins, mediocrity, [being] worried more about fitting in than about speaking from the heart and the soul, particularly to and about those who have no voice,” Cusick said in delivering the homily at Christ the King Church in Beverly.

“He believed in courage and had the freedom to speak to so many of the things many of us had thought. May 30, 2013 the Catholic church and the world lost an honest voice. Doesn’t it behoove us to be to be that voice, to be a choir.”

Those speaking at the parish where Father Greeley had served as a young priest decades ago recalled how he was among the first to speak out about abuse in the Catholic church and to advocate for equality of women in the church.

With dozens of priests joining parishioners in attendance, the Rev. David Tracy remembered Father Greeley as “one of the major theological interpreters of our day,” and one “who never hesitated to denounce injustice where he spotted it…May his tribe increase.”

Father Greeley died May 30 at the age of 85. He had been in poor health since being severely injured in 2008 after his coat got caught in the door of a taxicab.

Cardinal Francis George offered his condolences to the family and shared that in years past, he and Father Greeley would attend the opera together, and that Father Greeley said his favorite was La Traviata. He said when he asked Father Greeley why, he responded, “It’s the most Catholic….In the end, everyone is forgiven.”

Monsignor Thomas Cahalane, who traveled from Tucson, Ariz., where Father Greeley often gave lectures and public talks at Cahalane’s Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, described the man with dancing blue eyes who loved his Irish roots as a dear brother, priest, friend and mentor; and one who “at heart ... was always a parish priest.”

That’s how he’d want to be remembered, nieces Julie Durkin-Montague and Laura Durkin said just prior to the start of the funeral mass. They reflected on how he had the ability to help people from all walks of life, many of whom he’d never met.

In the back of the church, they’d placed on easels copies of scores of emails the family has received since his death.

One from Mississippi read, “Father Greeley’s books, mainly the fictional ones, helped me to see God in a completely different light, and one in which I’m happy to say, has enriched me and my life in extraordinary ways. I feel as if I have lost a wonderful friend, and the church has lost an unflinching prophet — one who was not afraid to stand up and say what needed to be said.”

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