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“See to it, Blackwood”, are the words that introduced me to the world of Father Blackie Ryan. When I was going through my mystery novel phase several years back, the Father Ryan mysteries managed to drop into my shopping bag. Blackie Ryan was the auxiliary bishop of the Chicago Archdiocese. With the help of those around him, he solved impossible “locked room” mysteries with flare and panache, all in the guise of a humble Catholic priest in a beat up Chicago Cubs windbreaker.

More importantly, Blackie Ryan introduced to me to a vision of what the Catholic Church could be. Priests who understood that parishioners were human, and that the church had flaws. Priests who also understood that God loves you. Period. Written by Father Andrew Greeley, these stories lead me to take my first steps towards rejoining the Catholic Church. I’m blessed to consider myself part of his parish, one of the people deeply touched by his words. In 2008, Father Greeley was injured in a freak accident. His words stopped, but his faith endured.

Father Andrew Greeley of Chicago passed away today at the age of 85 today.

Bless you father. Rest in peace.


Watch Andrew Greeley on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.