Wednesday, June 21, 2017


On 3/12/17 we introduced Servant of God Isaac Hecker from Tennessee and now another has been introduced from that same state.

SERVANT of GOD FATHER PATRICK RYAN was born in Tipperary, Ireland, in 1845. He was of a good family, but his parents were evicted from their home by a ruthless landlord and forced to emigrate. They settled in New York.  Pursuing his desire to be a priest, he entered St. Vincent's college, Cape Girardeau, Missouri  in 1866,  Although he was no genius, says one of his schoolmates, he was one of the soundest and most reliable students in the seminary and was noted for his common sense.  He excelled in athletics, and few could equal him in hand ball.

Father Ryan served as pastor of Saints Peter and Paul parish (now a Basilica) in Chattanooga from 1872 to 1878 and was instrumental in founding Notre Dame High School in 1876.

Father Ryan had already faced many difficulties in his administration of the parish.  When he arrived the city was just recovering from a series of disastrous fires that had destroyed much of the business  district. A cholera epidemic threatened the population in 1873. In 1875 a big flood came.  And now the horrible "yellow jack" appeared on the scene!

Because it had escaped previous visitations of the plague, Chattanooga considered itself protected by its mountains.   In offering hospitality to people of neighboring cities, where the fever has broken out, it gave refugees a chance to introduce the scourge within its own limits.

In September 1878, a yellow fever epidemic broke out in Chattanooga, in which 366 locals died. Four-fifths of the population fled from the city, but Father Ryan remained “going from house to house in the worst-infected section of the city to find what he could do for the sick and needy.” He himself became ill on September 26 and died on September 28. The heroic priest died September 28, after having received the last sacraments from the hands of his younger brother, the Reverend Michael Ryan.  Father Michael, who had just ordained, had come to Chattanooga a few days before to spend a short vacation with his brother.  The shock of his brother's tragic death so undermined the young priest's health that, after a few years service in Nashville, he retired to St. Louis, where he died shortly afterwards.

In 1886 when his body was transferred to the new Mount Olivet Cemetery, the city turned out in force to honor his memory. The funeral procession included more than 100 carriages.

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