Ralph McInerny

Ralph McInerny

The Church and the world has lost an immense soul in the passing into eternity yesterday of Dr. Ralph McInerny, long time professor of philosophy at Notre Dame University. He was the modern epitome of the Renaissance Man: a towering intellectual, a Latinist, raconteur sublime, a writer of doggerel, a mystery writer (the Father Dowling series) and the list could go on. Of all this, I suspect the role in which he took most pride was in being a husband and a father.

He was also a good, dear and abiding friend who could stick with you in hard times and throw wisdom on your befuddlement. The joy and sense of hope he indefatigably exuded was tested over the years by his own beloved Notre Dame, especially of late, as I would often remind him (as a Trojan to a Domer). But if he did not have confidence in the administration of the university, he never for a moment lost confidence in the Lady in whose honor it was named.

I recall, some years ago when Ralph spoke at a lecture I had sponsored. Someone stood to ask this erudite and learned man what I thought was a rather simple and base question. I cannot recall the details of the question now, only that I felt painfully embarrassed by the situation. Ralph received the question as though it were a rare gift and responded with the utmost respect to the questioner – thereby, and once again, teaching us not merely the propositions and abstractions of the Christian Faith, but their meaning and how to live them.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

(Attributed to St. Patrick)


  • http://documentarystorm.com Jones Scott

    R.I.P

  • http://users.eastlink.ca/~angusjbmaclean/WI_Main.html Stephen MacLean

    No doubt well-deserved tributes to the life and career of Dr McInerny will multiply in the days to come; James Schall, sometime contributor to the Acton Institute, wrote this preliminary moving testament to his friend.

    A sample of Dr McInerny’s more recent writings can be found at the archives of The Catholic Thing.

  • http://www.reenchantment.net Ken Larson

    Fr. Schall’s tribute, linked in Stephen MacLean’s post above, include this: “[Ralph] was not fooled by the temptation of prestige, of placing the criteria of the world over that of truth.” Oh, that we had more like this.

  • http://users.eastlink.ca/~angusjbmaclean/WI_Main.html Stephen

    Just a follow-up: To-day The Catholic Thing posted this appreciation to Dr McInerny from several of his colleagues.

  • Dr. Patrick Foley

    Dr, McInerny influenced me greatly with his many studies and comments on St. Thomas Aquinas and Jacques Maritain. His writings will remain for quite some time as essential to thought and morality throughout the Western World.

  • ellie

    I am late in coming to the wonder of Ralph McInerney. What would you recommend I begin to read of his writings? And then what?

    God bless,

    Ellie