Msgr. James Ryan Was a Priest for 67 Years

Msgr. Ryan

A Mass of Christian Burial for Msgr. James W. Ryan, pastor emeritus of St. Fortunata’s Church, East New York/New Lots, was celebrated June 26 at Queen of Peace Residence, Queens Village, where he had been living. He died June 20 at St. Francis Hospital, Roslyn, L.I. A priest of the diocese for 67 years, he was 92 years old.

Born in Glen Cove, L.I., he attended St. John’s College, Brooklyn; and Immaculate Conception Seminary, L.I. He was ordained May 22, 1948 by Bishop Thomas E. Molloy at St. James Pro-Cathedral, Brooklyn.

He served as an assistant at Holy Innocents, Flatbush, 1948; St. Christopher’s, Baldwin, L.I., 1948-50; Sacred Heart, Bayside, 1950-62; St. Malachy, East New York, 1962-67; and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, L.I.C., 1967-1982.

In 1982, he was named pastor of St. Fortunata and served there until 1997. He continued to live in the rectory after retirement. For the past four years, he has been living at Queen of Peace Residence.

Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto was the main celebrant of the funeral Mass. Special concelebrants included Msgrs. Paul Jervis, John Casey and John Burns. Msgr. T. Peter Ryan, his cousin, preached the homily.

Msgr. T. Peter Ryan, pastor emeritus at Our Lady of Martyrs, Centerport, L.I., was 18 years younger than his cousin and really got to know him well after he went to Queen of Peace Residence.

He had the opportunity to visit him every week or every 10 days, he said.

“I was impressed because he was very aware. He had a great sense of the Diocese of Brooklyn and the different parishes, and the priests who served in them and even those who were serving now,” he said of his first cousin. “He talked about all the parishes in almost an intimate way, it was very remarkable.”

Msgr. James Ryan is remembered as a loving man who visited the seven children of his late brother, Joe Ryan, who passed away about two years ago.

“Jim was very good to those kids,” Msgr. Peter Ryan recalled. “He would visit them almost every week and take them out and down to the beach.”

Later, his nephews and nieces – Mary, Nancy, Joseph, Judith, Pauline, Teresa and James – faithfully visited him. The Ryan family, which has roots in the Cold Spring Harbor area, remembers him as a loving, faithful man.

“He was known as a very spiritual person,” said the homilist. “He had a love for people and you could almost see it when he was in contact with family and visitors in Queen of Peace. Visiting with him brought us a beautiful smile on his part.”

His niece Pauline Marie also remembers him as “an incredible human being.”

“Every moment in his company was a pleasure,” she said. “He was a blessing to so many countless others throughout his priesthood.”

5 thoughts on “Msgr. James Ryan Was a Priest for 67 Years

  1. I was fortunate enough to have Father Ryan serving at Our Lady
    of Mount Carmel in Astoria during my entire time while attending
    the Parish school and into my high school years. I can say, with
    confidence, that no better man ever served the priesthood. He led
    by example, in the way he lived, the way he celebrated Mass, and
    with his constant, gentle and caring demeanor. Yes, we were chased
    off the grounds many, many times for trespassing after
    hours but, even then, he was the best! My family never had a
    personal relationship with him, but we admired him greatly from a
    distance. So much respect we had for him. I received my first Holy
    Communion with him present and he celebrated the Funeral Mass
    of my grandmother. I wrote him a few years back, knowing that my
    letter would be received like that of a stranger, but, I felt compelled
    to do so, as he deserved it. He responded in kind, included a card
    and thanked me. All the while, it was my family and I that was
    thankful for him. Father Ryan, God Bless You and your family,

    Robert Anich, Parishioner at Saint Andrew Avellino, Flushing.

  2. I had the privilege of serving mass many time with him at St. Malachy’s during the early 1960’s. He also took us to baseball games at both Shea and Yankee Stadiums. He was a kind, humble and gentle man who loved and served God with respect, reverence and dedication. He was – to me – the best priest I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Rest in peace Father Ryan – I will never forget you.

  3. I had the honor of knowing Msgr. Ryan when he was the pastor of my church, St. Fortunata. He was the most humble and genuine priest that I have ever known. He was truly a saint and will be greatly missed. I will always cherish the memory of the last time I spoke to him. He placed his hands on my head and gave me his blessing.
    Rest in peace Msgr. Ryan.

  4. Msgr. Ryan (Father Ryan back then,) was a good priest, a holy priest, and a great man. He was the one priest at Sacred Heart Parish in Bayside who related to the kids in the mid-fifties and early sixties. He was the curate in charge of the Altar Boy program, and took great care to work with the boys,requiring us to not only memorize the Latin, but to learn the English translation as well. He was a holy man, and a kind, patient and gentle man as well. God rest his soul.