Father Ralph Pfau (Fr. John Doe)
He is believed to have been the first Roman Catholic priest to enter Alcoholics Anonymous.
Fr. Pfau was born on November 10, 1904, and died on February 19, 1967.
He was a priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, ordained at St. Meinrad Seminary, and received an MA in Education at Fordham University.
In the opening paragraph of his autobiography, “Prodigal Shepherd,” Father Pfau wrote: “All my life, I will carry three indelible marks. I am a Roman Catholic priest. I am an alcoholic. And I am a neurotic.”
He never had a drink until about a year after his ordination. But by 1943 he was sufficiently worried about his drinking to investigate A.A. While responding to a call from a woman who said her husband was dying, he learned from the doctor that the man was not dying, but merely passed out from a combination of alcohol and barbital. As Fr. Pfau was leaving the house he noticed a book on a shelf and asked if he could borrow it. It was “Alcoholics Anonymous.”