Rev. James F. Ryan, S.S.E, 84, died on April 2, 2007, in Selma, Ala.
Father Ryan, son of James Ryan and Elizabeth Burke, was born on Dec. 11, 1922, in Charleville, Ireland. He was a professed member of the Society of Saint Edmund for 56 years and an Edmundite priest for over 50 years.
Fr. Ryan graduated from Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vt., in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. Following his ordination in 1956, Fr. Ryan taught in the English department of Saint Michael's College until 1958. For the next five years (1958-63), he was assistant pastor at St. Edmund's Parish in Whitton, England. It was this assignment that gave him his first experience of missionary work. In 1963, he again returned to the United States to teach at Saint Michael's College, this time in the theology department.
In 1968, Fr. Ryan became assistant director of the Edmundites' Southern Missions in Selma, Ala. He worked vigorously to promote the work of the Edmundites among the poor of the South for the next three years.
In 1971, he was appointed Director of St. Edmund's Seminary Guild in Mystic. He built bridges to Catholics across America helping many to share their own blessings with others.
Fr. Ryan was assistant pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Mobile, Ala. (1978-81); assistant pastor, then pastor, at St. Edmund of Canterbury in Whitton, England (1981-85); pastor at St. Michael's Parish, Heron Bay, Ala. (1986-88); and Queen of Peace Parish, Selma, Ala. (1988-90). Beginning in 1990, Fr. Ryan served as administrator and later as pastor at St. Joseph's in Camden and Immaculate Conception in Orville, Ala., until his retirement in 1994.
Fr. Ryan was best described by one of his Edmundite brothers as "a man of God, a man of humor, a man of strength, a man of the Word, and a man of peace always."
In addition to his brothers in religion, Father Ryan is survived by his sister, Annette Barrett of Cork City, Ireland, his brother, John Ryan of White Plains, N.Y., and his niece, Geraldine Taber of Mystic.
The funeral and burial will take place at the Edmundite residence in Selma, Ala. A Mass will be offered for the repose of the soul of Fr. Ryan at Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel on Enders Island in Mystic on Sunday, April 15, at 10 a.m.
Donations may be made in Fr. Ryan's memory to St. Edmund's Retreat, P.O. Box 399, Mystic, CT 06355.
Published in The Westerly Sun from Apr. 6 to Apr. 7, 2007.