It's beginning to look a lot like an American Christmas: unpleasant relatives, miserable travel, a slobbering dog-and one "harmless American of Irish origins," Jack Flanigan, who is reluctantly falling in love with a young Russian woman studying at Harvard. She's spending Christmas alone in a foreign country, so he invites the dark-eyed beauty home to Chicago for the holiday. Even though it isn't Christmas in the Russian Orthodox calendar, she accepts! What happens when she gets to Chicago and caught in the maelstrom of commercialized Yuletide? Enough to say, there's a tree, and a feast, and midnight Mass, and a gaggle of contentious Flanigans of all ages-who have the merriest Christmas ever-and nothing will ever be quite the same for any of them. Especially for Jack.
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.