SOUTH BEND, Indiana, FEB. 1, 2010 ( Ralph McInerny, the Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies and retired professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, was buried today at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Notre Dame.

The Thomist scholar and prolific author died Friday at Our Lady of Peace Hospital in Mishawaka. He had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and would have turned 81 on Feb. 24.

Ralph McInerny was a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He held degrees from St. Paul Seminary, University of Minnesota and Laval University, and had taught at the University of Notre Dame since 1955. He directed the Jacques Maritain Center from 1979 to 2006.

He was an acknowledged expert on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, and a prolific author. He penned over two dozen scholarly books, many more scholarly essays, and over 80 novels.

He wrote the popular book series Father Dowling Mysteries, which became a successful television program starring Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson.

In 1982, he co-founded Crisis Magazine with Michael Novak. The publication is now known as InsideCatholic.

In 2006, he published his autobiography titled "I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You: My Life and Pastimes."

John Crosby, the chairman of the philosophy department at Franciscan University of Steubenville, commented to ZENIT that McInerny "was first and last a devoted son of the Catholic Church."

"He was also an eminent representative of the Catholic intellectual tradition," he continued. "He helped to articulate this tradition in our time by his vast literary output, ranging from polemical pieces to novels to learned philosophical studies on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.  

"His wise voice, speaking with a certain lightness of heart in genial and urbane tones, will be missed, but not forgotten. A major Catholic thinker and witness has passed away."
McInerny's wife, Connie, died in 2002. They had seven children and 17 grandchildren.