Furthermore!: Memories of a Parish Priest

Furthermore!: Memories of a Parish Priest

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by Andrew M. Greeley
     
 

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Furthermore! is a novel by Andrew M. Greeley, a priest, distinguished sociologist and bestselling author.

Overview

Furthermore! is a novel by Andrew M. Greeley, a priest, distinguished sociologist and bestselling author.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Greeley offers Furthermore! as a companion volume to Confessions of a Parish Priest, the autobiography he published 15 years ago. Greeley styles his latest work as a self-evaluation of his careers as novelist, sociologist and priest. His narrative of the salient events that shaped his character is particularly concerned with the upheavals in American Catholicism from the 1950s to the present. Greeley asserts that the "Confident Church" of the 1950s was basically sound in the fundamentals of its doctrine but lacked the requisite depth and substance to face the social crises of the 1960s and 1970s. He finds the contemporary "Confusing Church" more chaotic but less shallow than the Catholicism of the first half of the century. This "Confusing Church" is characterized by competing authoritarian impulses, including hierarchical traditionalism, and a lay "liberalism" that scorns any judgment but its own. This vivid portrait of late-twentieth-century Catholicism is short on cogent analysis. Greeley lays responsibility for the Church's flaws fully at the doorstep of the Vatican, including lay intransigence and the miserable state of art and architecture in American churches. While claiming objectivity, Greeley seems decidedly uninterested in the stories of Catholics who are faithful to Church teachings. (Dec.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This volume covers Greeley's life in the 15 years since the publication of his first memoirs, Confessions of a Parish Priest. A novelist who has had ten books on the New York Times best-sellers list and a practicing Catholic priest on staff at the National Opinion Research Center, Greeley has regularly received both acclaim and criticism. Greeley's confidence, compassion, and the many reverent and not so reverent thoughts expressed here are sure to keep the reader paging through the book. Whether you're a fan of his fiction or interested in his sharp insights into the Church's turbulent times in the last half of this century, Greeley (now 70) will continue to intrigue. Recommended for libraries carrying his novels and for those staying current in contemporary religious criticism.--Leroy Hommerding, Citrus Cty. Lib. Inverness, FL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429929790
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
04/01/2011
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
975,082
File size:
391 KB

Read an Excerpt

Furthermore!

Memories of a Parish Priest


By Andrew M. Greeley

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 1999 Andrew M. Greeley Enterprises, Ltd.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2979-0



CHAPTER 1

Reunions


The St. Angela neighborhood looked crisp and clean under the spotless blue sky and golden warm autumn sunlight. It seemed not to have changed, save for the big white stone Gothic church and the sculptured lawn, both of which appeared only twelve years after our graduation. If the old gravel playing fields (which wreaked havoc on the young knees of the parish children) had still been there, it would have been easy to convince us that the year was 1942 instead of 1992. We hesitated in front of the church, not sure that we would recognize anyone or be recognized. Then the smiles and laughter began and we knew everyone and it was 1942 and we had just graduated from grammar school.

We were older of course and so was the neighborhood, but, it seemed, not that much older. The community was still made up of respectable, hardworking middle-class men and women who keep their yards clean and their window frames painted. Kids still played on the sidewalk. Teenagers ambled down the streets in Sunday clothes. The skin pigmentation was different but on that Sunday it didn't seem to make any difference.

Priests that we were, Larry McNamara (bishop of Grand Island, Nebraska, now) and I immediately began to work the crowd. What else do priests do when they face a crowd in back of a church, even if they haven't seen some of the faces in five decades?

From that moment on the day was magic, sacramental as I would later say. We drifted into the church. I might have shouted one of my favorite lines, "OK, let's do Mass and get it over with!" Larry said the Mass and preached (told a story) and later at the dinner I told a story. We toured the school which was as cheerful and as pin-neat as it had been a half century ago. Then, in the still glowing sunlight, we adjourned to the Carlton Hotel in Oak Park (a favorite haunt of many in years gone by, but not of this seminarian) for drinks and dinner and conversation. Rita Murphy and Marilyn James, the organizers of the event (at the instigation of a certain priest who figured women are much better at these things than men — and at most everything else as far as that goes), had calculated nicely how much we could afford to pay (not everyone had been successful in fifty years) and still have a good meal. The latter, efficient and charming banker that she is, kept careful and precise records and would not let us exceed our budget. The food was delicious and the conversation was brilliant. Laughter filled the room all the time. Every moment was precious. We wanted the day to go on forever. We were all sad when it was time to go. For a few hours on a beautiful autumn Sunday we had been young again.

Class reunions, dubiously organized and diffidently attended, are often like that, though, alas, not always. Proudly we claimed that our golden jubilee was the best ever. It didn't matter whether it was or not. Sufficient that we thought it was and would always think so.

As I reflected the next day on this astonishing Sunday afternoon, both delightful and deeply moving, I came to understand that it was a sacrament, a hint, a mystery, a promise, a sign. If we could recapture our youth, however briefly, then it was not gone completely and could perhaps be recaptured again and permanently in the world to come. No one, except this specialist in reflection, would think that explicitly (at least as far as I know); but the nice thing about sacraments of grace is that you don't have to reflect consciously on them to be influenced by them. The Spirit (Lady Wisdom, Whoever) lurked there with us during that reunion, doubtless enjoying it as much as we did, just as She had enjoyed the graduation a half century before and enjoys all human joy.

We had all aged, some more gracefully than others. Yet we were almost all recognizable and some seemed not to have changed at all. Some of the women were attractive and a few very attractive indeed. (One of the graceful things about growing older is that you realize how many different kinds of good looks there are in the other gender!) Most of us seemed to have done pretty well with our lives, some of us very well, all of us much better than we had expected a half century before as the gloom of the Great Depression had changed into the horror of war. Pearl Harbor, Bataan, Wake Island, and Corregidor were names from the last six months of our lives. If the war went on for many years most of the boys would have to fight in it and most of the girls would have to pray for us. And after the war ... what then? Depression kids that we were, our expectations were limited. Never in our wildest dreams could we have expected a half century of prosperity — and by the standards of the Great Depression even recessions are times of prosperity. For us, life, no matter how many heartaches and pain, would be filled with surprises. Many of us, like me, sat in the church during our golden jubilee Eucharist and shook our heads in astonishment. We were virtually the last of the Depression generation. We would never be able to explain to our children, our nieces and nephews, and to their children how grim, how chill, how, well, depressing those years were. Or the excitement when we discovered a decade after our graduation that the Great Depression had not and probably would not return. Then our expectations exploded and we never looked back — save in our nightmares and our times of trouble and doubt.

We are the last to stride the gap between two totally different times in our nation's experiences — depression and prosperity (as we would have called it). Growing up in the Great Depression was not a good experience, but to emerge from it into a world of surprise was a wonderful experience indeed. Somehow — and through no particular merit of our own — we had made it. And "it" was almost incomprehensibly better than we thought possible. I wonder if, on the average, those who came after us could have found their lives so surprising.

We all had experienced both Churches, the Confident one and the Confusing one. My classmates seemed quite untroubled by the change. Like me, they liked the new Church better than the old. For all the angst in the Church as institution, for all the conflict between Rome and the theologians, for all the defections and unease among the clergy and the religious, my generation of laity was not at all confused.

Mixed in, then, with the joys of recaptured youth on our golden anniversary was bewilderment at the unexpected trajectories of our lives. Today, there cannot be neighborhoods like St. Angela was in the 1930s and 1940s, if only because the universality of auto ownership has broadened the horizons of those over sixteen beyond anything we could imagine in the middle 1940s. Ridgeland Avenue, Central Avenue, North Avenue, and Chicago Avenue — these were our boundaries. Except for a few tentative explorations beyond these boundaries and an occasional El ride to the Loop, the neighborhood was our world. Young men and women still courted by "walking out" as the Irish would say. On serious dates they would ride public transportation to distant theaters like the Marlboro (a classic movie palace of the art deco era) at Madison and Crawford (Pulaski Road to those who weren't Irish). Usually we would go to the Ambassador at Division Street and Monitor Avenue where, for twenty-five cents, we could watch three films, a newsreel, a cartoon and endless previews and receive free dishes to boot.

By the time my classmates had graduated from high school in 1946, all this was already fading away. If we are the last to remember what it was like to grow up in the Depression, so we are the last to remember what neighborhoods were like when most people did not have cars. It was not a bad life. We did not feel unfairly constrained because we were unaware that there might be other possibilities. Indeed, despite the Depression, we knew that we were living better than our grandparents had and infinitely better than had our great-grandparents in the Old Country. I'm probably the only one from St. Angela, '42, to lament the passing of such communities which in many ways had more in common with the villages from which our ancestors had come than with the neighborhoods of today. I'm certainly the only one in the class to write novels about that kind of neighborhood; and while I lament their passing (and sometimes grow angry at my fellow priests who babble about community and don't see the possibility of community within their own parishes), I would not want to return to them. The more freedom of choice humans enjoy the better, even if freedom often means loneliness and alienation.

I joke that the wisdom of the ancient Arab proverb that a man should choose his wife and his horse from the tent across the road was abrogated by the custom of sending kids away to college (and thus creating the jams at O'Hare at Thanksgiving and Christmas). Kids these days even marry spouses from Boston and New York and Minneapolis and Macon, Georgia! Yet these couples in exogamous marriages seem eventually to settle down in neighborhoods which, while not as constrained as was St. Angela, nonetheless exist because of a hunger for a "place" to which to belong and for the support that such places offer. I am angry at those theologians who don't seem to realize that this American experience of creating and re-creating and then re-creating yet again the peasant communes of Europe is worthy of serious reflection because it tells us much about the nature of human nature (and confirms some of the basic tenets of Catholic social philosophy).

So in October of 1992 we celebrated our recovered youth and the surprises of our lives and our memories of growing up in a neighborhood which by present standards was extraordinarily supportive (and constraining) even if it did not seem so unusual to us then.

I was impressed at the reunion and in the recovered friendships that I described in Confessions and by how well my classmates had survived both as Americans and as Catholics. I don't mean merely that some of the women were still disturbingly attractive. Rather, many of the class of '42 had made the transition from depression to prosperity and from the Counter-Reformation to the Ecumenical Age with graceful ease. They knew who they were and where they came from and neither an elegant suburban home nor Mass in English shook them. They surely enjoyed the suburban home and also enjoyed the new Church (and deplored the present pope's attempts to restore the old one). Their faith had not been weakened by either (often modest and sometimes substantial) affluence or a Church in turmoil. Quite the contrary, both developments seemed to have strengthened their religious commitments, as had their responses to life's troubles and tragedies. On the average their faith meant more to them now rather than less.

I often reflect that they have survived the twin changes, from depression to prosperity and from Counter-Reformation to Ecumenical Age, better than have many priests of our generation. They seem happier and more alive and more Catholic than do many of my clerical contemporaries. My suspicion is that religious experience is more frequent and more meaningful for lay Catholics than it is for many clerical Catholics. In today's Church the clergy ought to look to the laity for spiritual inspiration instead of vice versa.

One night at a mini-reunion dinner some of them began to tell horror stories about their experiences with priests, mostly on the subject of sex — like that of a young mother with a new baby living in a strange city, asking a priest for permission to practice rhythm, a permission for which she did not have to ask and perhaps should not have asked. He excoriated her lack of generosity and gave her permission for three months, "but no more!" What a fool! Small wonder that the Church has lost its credibility on sex, especially on married sex.

Why did you stay in the Church? I finally asked them.

"It's our Church," one of them replied. "As much as it is theirs. Why should we let them force us out?"

So they stayed in the Church and grew in faith and are happy in their religion not because of priests but despite them. Try as we might we have not been able to drive the laity out.

What did I discover about myself at our golden reunion and from the old friends who have become new friends?

At the reunion and at our mini-reunions each year, I play almost automatically the part of the grinning, genial leprechaun, oozing (mostly authentic) Gaelic charm, a mask that has become an ineradicable part of my identity and reveals much more than it hides. (Every public presentation of the self — any self — hides something.) At the October 1992 event I wondered if my classmates from fifty years ago would be astonished by a persona that they had never seen when we were kids (though the leprechaun was always lurking). If they were surprised, they didn't let on. Rather, they told me how much they liked my novels about the old days and the old neighborhood. Hey, when the people you went to school with read your stories and like them, you can't be all bad, can you?

But later some admitted that they were surprised and delighted.

One woman (still totally gorgeous and married to a man with a Phi Beta Kappa key) said, "We thought of you as a cute little boy with beautiful blue eyes who was very smart, very quiet, and was going to be a priest."

It was a view of myself I did not have in those days. I would have rather said that I was a shy outcast. Two sides of the same coin maybe and the first side burnished gently by time. And cute! Granted that word has multiple meanings when spoken by a woman, but I would not have thought that any of the meanings applied to me. God may have been wise. If I had known that, I might have stopped being shy and then what?

Well, then I'd still be a priest and maybe with more confidence and more joyous memories.

And another (equally lovely) one said, "I knew you liked me and I kind of liked you. Well, maybe liked you a lot. But you were going to be a priest and I wasn't going to tell you how much I liked you."

Yeah.

I still would have been a priest and my shyness would still have melted into Celtic charm (a much more pleasant and revealing mask behind which to hide). Yet my life would have been perhaps marginally different. And better.

It dawned on me that I had misread the data from my grammar school years. I grant that time had modified their images of me and that they perhaps didn't recollect them precisely as they were, but I had still completely misread the evidence. My classmates had genuinely liked me and I didn't think they had. They liked me as much as I had liked them. Such a misunderstanding was no great tragedy for them or for me. But it was a lesson that I did not (and probably still do not) see myself as others see me and that their view of the matter is often much more benign than my own. I have not quite absorbed this insight yet and probably never will. But unlike most people, I was given the grace of discovering it while I was still alive and thus modifying my life accordingly. It is unfortunate to be unloved. But it is also a loss to be loved and not realize it. Finally it is a great blessing to realize that you were loved while it's not too late to do anything about it.

Perhaps it is that way with God. She may love us more than we realize, more than we feel we deserve, and more, we might think, than She ought to love us.

So the rediscovery of my friends from the past has been a rich experience, a disconcerting, disturbing, and unsettling experience. It has forced me to pause to realize that I have not known very well who I really am. I don't know quite yet what to do about this discovery, but it is certainly changing the direction of my spiritual growth and of my life.

If you don't think people like you and then discover that they do, you'd damn well better change your life — and thank God for the insight.

And maybe be less defensive — and also perhaps less offensive!

The second reunion was the all-alumni reunion at Christ the King in the autumn of 1994, an even more magical event, if that were possible.

I must have been reluctant to attend (I was about to leave on a trip to Ireland for work on the International Social Survey Program) because I had convinced myself that the Mass was at 5:30. Luckily I left my apartment early so I would have plenty of time in case the Saturday afternoon traffic was worse than I thought it would be. When I parked at 4:55 next to where the basketball courts used to be, the parking lots around the CK were already filled. I wandered into church at 4:57 for the Mass which was in fact scheduled for 5:00.

"I thought you weren't coming," Pat Dowd Coffee exclaimed as she hugged me.

"I said I'd be here," I replied, still not getting it.

I got it only when, vestments donned, we swept out of the sacristy at 5:02.

Well, some mistakes are not Freudian.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Furthermore! by Andrew M. Greeley. Copyright © 1999 Andrew M. Greeley Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Priest, sociologist, author and journalist, Father Andrew M. Greeley built an international assemblage of devout fans over a career spanning five decades. His books include the Bishop Blackie Ryan novels, including The Archbishop in Andalusia, the Nuala Anne McGrail novels, including Irish Tweed, and The Cardinal Virtues. He was the author of over 50 best-selling novels and more than 100 works of non-fiction, and his writing has been translated into 12 languages.

Father Greeley was a Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona and a Research Associate with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. In addition to scholarly studies and popular fiction, for many years he penned a weekly column appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers. He was also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter, America and Commonweal, and was interviewed regularly on national radio and television. He authored hundreds of articles on sociological topics, ranging from school desegregation to elder sex to politics and the environment.

Throughout his priesthood, Father Greeley unflinchingly urged his beloved Church to become more responsive to evolving concerns of Catholics everywhere. His clear writing style, consistent themes and celebrity stature made him a leading spokesperson for generations of Catholics. He chronicled his service to the Church in two autobiographies, Confessions of a Parish Priest and Furthermore!

In 1986, Father Greeley established a $1 million Catholic Inner-City School Fund, providing scholarships and financial support to schools in the Chicago Archdiocese with a minority student body of more than 50 percent. In 1984, he contributed a $1 million endowment to establish a chair in Roman Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago. He also funded an annual lecture series, "The Church in Society," at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois, from which he received his S.T.L. in 1954.

Father Greeley received many honors and awards, including honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland at Galway, the University of Arizona and Bard College. A Chicago native, he earned his M.A. in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1962 from the University of Chicago.
Father Greeley was a penetrating student of popular culture, deeply engaged with the world around him, and a lifelong Chicago sports fan, cheering for the Bulls, Bears and the Cubs. Born in 1928, he died in May 2013 at the age of 85.


Priest, sociologist, author and journalist, Father Andrew M. Greeley built an international assemblage of devout fans over a career spanning five decades. His books include the Bishop Blackie Ryan novels, including The Archbishop in Andalusia, the Nuala Anne McGrail novels, including Irish Tweed, and The Cardinal Virtues. He was the author of over 50 best-selling novels and more than 100 works of non-fiction, and his writing has been translated into 12 languages.

Father Greeley was a Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona and a Research Associate with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. In addition to scholarly studies and popular fiction, for many years he penned a weekly column appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers. He was also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter, America and Commonweal, and was interviewed regularly on national radio and television. He authored hundreds of articles on sociological topics, ranging from school desegregation to elder sex to politics and the environment.

Throughout his priesthood, Father Greeley unflinchingly urged his beloved Church to become more responsive to evolving concerns of Catholics everywhere. His clear writing style, consistent themes and celebrity stature made him a leading spokesperson for generations of Catholics. He chronicled his service to the Church in two autobiographies, Confessions of a Parish Priest and Furthermore!

In 1986, Father Greeley established a $1 million Catholic Inner-City School Fund, providing scholarships and financial support to schools in the Chicago Archdiocese with a minority student body of more than 50 percent. In 1984, he contributed a $1 million endowment to establish a chair in Roman Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago. He also funded an annual lecture series, “The Church in Society,” at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois, from which he received his S.T.L. in 1954.

Father Greeley received many honors and awards, including honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland at Galway, the University of Arizona and Bard College. A Chicago native, he earned his M.A. in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1962 from the University of Chicago.

Father Greeley was a penetrating student of popular culture, deeply engaged with the world around him, and a lifelong Chicago sports fan, cheering for the Bulls, Bears and the Cubs. Born in 1928, he died in May 2013 at the age of 85.

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