Herbert J. RYAN

Obituary
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RYAN, Herbert J., S.J. Theologian and Teacher, 79 The Reverend Herbert J. Ryan, S.J., a Jesuit priest who was a distinguished scholar and writer, and a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, died of complications from lung disease on Thursday, April 8, 2010, in Santa Monica. Born in Scarsdale, New York, on February 19, 1931, he attended Fordham Prep, entered the Jesuit Order on July 30, 1949, and was ordained to the priesthood by Francis Cardinal Spellman in June 1962. He received graduate degrees in philosophy and history from Loyola University in Chicago, in theology from Woodstock College in Maryland, and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.
A polyglot with an incredible memory and an astonishing gift for accents, he was fluent in French, German, Italian and Spanish, with reading mastery in Greek, Latin, Portuguese, and Dutch. He taught classical languages and literature for three years at Regis High School in New York, beginning in 1956. After then completing doctoral studies, he joined the New York graduate faculty of Woodstock College, teaching also at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University, and the General Theological Seminary. His courses included patristic theology, Christian dogma, Church History, Christian mysticism, and ecumenism. Always central to his concerns was faith as religious experience and lived commitment. Father Ryan was an intellectual and ecumenical force in the many professional organizations to which he belonged. Because of his comprehensive mastery of the interests of each group, diverse though they be, he was a leader, for example, in the American Academy of Religion and the Theological Society of America. He was recognized for his work with an array of honors, including an Honorary Doctorate from the General Theological Seminary (1973) and the International Christian Unity Award (1974). The broad scope of Father Ryan's official church work included his position as assistant to the Rev. John Courtney Murray, S.J., at the Second Vatican Council (Rome, 1964-65). He was a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (1969-83), and because of the outstanding work he accomplished for this commission he was awarded the Pontifical Medal of Merit (1980), and also the Cross of St. Augustine, conferred by the Archbishop of Canterbury (1981). He was a member of the Ecumenical Commission of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (1974-1984). He published three books and over 65 scholarly articles in the United States and six European countries. He also wrote over 90 reviews of books in his field. He came to Loyola Marymount University as Professor of Theological Studies in 1974. He immediately established himself as an outstanding teacher, guide, and guru. Throughout his 36 years at LMU, he rooted himself in the Jesuit tradition of an intellectual tradition that seeks to find God in all things, and he transmitted to his students his own hunger for justice and peace and a commitment to the service of others. He showed unfailing kindness to all who came to him for counsel and academic direction. He was the only faculty member of his generation invited by the students to give the Commencement Address. In 2001 he was named Teacher of the Year. He never reveled in his achievements and honors, but rather delighted in the intellectual and spiritual growth of his students and colleagues. Toward the end of his teaching career, he joined the Center for Ignatian Spirituality and directed individual retreats for many of his colleagues. During this time, he developed an online advice column called "Ask Father Herbie," in which he would answer e-mailed theological and religious questions. Generous to a fault with his time and effort, he served others with little concern for his own health. He often said that his deepest desire was to live and die as a true Jesuit: everything for the greater glory of God. His brothers, Ed91010
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Apr. 14, 2010
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