Ralph McInerny, author and Catholic theologian best known for his series of Father Dowling mysteries, passed on January 29 at the age of 80.
Ralph McInerny was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 24, 1919. In 1951 he received a bachelor's degree from St, Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1954 he received a master's degree from the University of Minnesota. In 1952 he received a master's degree from the University of Minnesota. In 1954 he received a doctorate from Laval University in Quebec. He taught for one year at Creighton University in Omaha, then started teaching at Notre Dame in 1955.
As a theologian Ralph McInerny was one of the top scholars on the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. In fact, his first published book was a scholarly work, New Themes in Christianity in 1969. He would go onto write nearly twenty nonfiction works, not only on Catholicism but also on writing and Church Latin. His first published novel was Her Death of Cold, published in 1977. It was the first in the long running Father Dowling series. Father Dowling was a priest who had some very hard knocks earlier in his life. As a result he developed an acute concern in the welfare of humanity, including solving crimes. In all there would be 29 Father Dowling mysteries, with the final one, Stained Glass, published last year.The popularity of the series led to a TV show starring Tom Bosley as Father Dowling. It ran from 1987 to 1991.
McInerny also wrote other works of fiction. Under the pseudonym Monica Quill he wrote the Sister Mary Theresa series, about a crime solving nun. In all there were ten Sister Mary Theresa novels. He also wrote the University of Notre Dame series, centred on crime solving professor Roger Knight. In all there were six books in the University of Notre Dame series. He also wrote several individual novels. In all around 80 works of fiction. His final novel, Sham Rock, is going to be published this April.
Ralph McInerny was an extremely prolific writer. Indeed, it is somewhat amazing that he was able to not only publish a good many works of fiction, but a number of scholarly works as well. He was a very popular writer, his Father Dowling mysteries and University of Notre Dame series selling very well. If McInerny was a success as a writer, it was perhaps he had an innate understanding of character. His books also had an authenticity about them, informed as they were by his knowledge of Catholicism. It is for that reson that he has a legion of fans.a