Catholic Leader columnist and prison chaplain Fr Kevin Ryan died on the weekend of March 12-13.
Well known for his Real Life column on page 2, Fr Ryan began writing for The Leader in 1994.
When featured in The Leader’s “Priest Profile” on August 3, 2008, Fr Ryan said he “came from a strong Catholic family in a strong Catholic area” – of Allora, south-west of Brisbane.
The popular columnist said at that time “the best part” of priesthood was “being a bridge between God and people, between this world and the next”.
Brisbane Centacare Pastoral Ministries director Fr John Chalmers said Fr Ryan’s ministry took mid-20th century theologian Karl Barth’s “idea of living the Christian faith with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other … (and) made it his own”.
“Kevin took the Bible to heart,” Fr Chalmers said.
“Like St Augustine he met the living God on the pages of the Bible – the encounter broke his heart open and set him free … (but) that left Kevin with two empty hands.
“With one he reached out to all God’s people particularly those doing it tough – whether a prisoner, a prisoner’s family, a prison officer or a fellow chaplain (and) with the other hand, he grabbed hold of, even reverenced, people’s stories – whether of the outback or the great urban sprawl.”
St Peter Claver College deputy principal Michael Nayler, in a personal tribute sent to The Catholic Leader last Monday, echoed Fr Chalmers’ words.
“(Fr Ryan) introduced me to God through the poor and marginalised,” Mr Nayler, who has had a long association with Fr Ryan, said. “When I visited at Scarborough or Kingaroy, he would always be looking after the poor and marginalised, whether that be families who had been kicked out of their caravan park or young people who had been kicked out of home.”
Fr Ryan marked 50 years as a priest in 2010 and he returned to Toowoomba diocese for a golden jubilee Mass on June 27 last year, celebrated in the same church of his first Mass after ordination – the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Gladfield Valley.
Fr Ryan’s placements included St Patrick’s Cathedral, Toowoomba; St Mary’s, Warwick; Clifton; Oakey; St George; and Kingaroy. He served as a navy chaplain from 1969.
From 1977 Fr Ryan was appointed as full-time chaplain to St Mary’s College, Toowoomba, and St Edmund’s College, Ipswich, in 1981.
In the 1980s, Fr Ryan had a school chaplaincy appointment in Scarborough parish (now within Redcliffe City parish). In 1984 Fr Ryan was a Reserve naval chaplain in Brisbane and in 1986 he formally began serving in Brisbane archdiocese.
More recently he ministered in Gatton and Darra-Jindalee parishes.
A requiem Mass for Fr Ryan was celebrated in St Mary’s, Warwick – the church where he was ordained on June 29, 1960 – last Thursday (March 17).
A memorial Mass for Fr Ryan will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 22, at 7pm at the Church of the Twelve Apostles, Jindalee.
Released by The Catholic Leader
March 20, 2011