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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: April 2008
Thursday

Redemptorist Father John J. Ryan, who served in Puerto Rico for nearly a quarter of a century, died at St. John Neumann Residence in Saratoga Springs, NY, on Thursday, April 17. He was 80 years old. The Funeral Mass for the Boston native was offered April 22 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (MissionChurch) in Boston, where Father Ryan had been serving since 1989. Burial was in the Redemptorist cemetery in Boston.

The son of Patrick and Elizabeth Fitzgerald Ryan, he was born Nov. 21, 1927; he and his five sisters were raised in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. From the time he was old enough to serve at the altar, he knew he wanted to be a priest and, after finishing grammar school, he was accepted at the Redemptorist seminary in North East, PA. He spent his novitiate year in Ilchester, MD, made his first profession of vows in 1948 and his final profession in 1951. After completing his studies at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 21, 1953.

Like many of his confreres at the time, Father Ryan’s first assignments were overseas, in his case, to Puerto Rico. He was sent to Guayama in 1955 and was named rector at Aguas Buenas in 1964. His next assignment was as rector back in Aguas Buenas. In 1972, he was chosen to serve as Baltimore Provincial Consultor and Assistant Procurator and so moved to the Redemptorist Provincial Residence in Brooklyn. He resigned from those positions and, in 1976, officially transferred to the then Vice Province of San Juan, serving again in Guayama. In 1979 he was assigned to Fajardo.

When Redemptorist Father Felipe Santiago learned of Father Ryan’s death, he recalled his days in Puerto Rico, describing his confrere as "one of those great Redemptorists that make a path in our presence in the Caribbean." When Father Santiago was growing up in Guayama, he found the missionary to be a great preacher: "The message of Jesus as Redeemer was proclaimed to the people in that temple through his deep, strong and clear voice with compassion and joy. You could see in the eyes of the people the reaction to the message that was proclaimed; their hearts were inflamed as Jesus was made present in their lives."

Father Ryan returned to Boston in 1981, serving at Mission Church for the next three years. He then was assigned to the Redemptorist seminary in Suffield, CT. In 1988, he went to Immaculate Conception Church in the Bronx and the following year he returned to Boston, where he served as a hospital chaplain. He also directed the Archdiocese of Boston’s Cursillo Movement for Spanish-speaking Catholics. "John was excellent in Spanish and they had great confidence in him," said his confrere, Father John Devin. "He also was a favorite at the hospital."

Father Thomas Travers, a former Vice Provincial of San Juan, said Father Ryan will long be remembered by the people of Aguas Buenas: "When he was rector there, he took on a project to knock down a little wooden church and built in its place a glorious modern church. The chapel had held about 200; the new church could seat around 500 people." What is more remarkable, Father Travers said, "is that he raised the money locally, from a small base in a poor town." He succeeded in this because he developed very good relationships with the laity and encouraged them to work together, Father Travers added.

When it came to managing money, as Procurator in San Juan, Assistant Procurator for Baltimore, or as a parish rector, Father Ryan was "very methodical and exacting with all the church books," said Father Lawrence Lover. Within the Redemptorist community, "he was a good, cooperative confrere whom anyone could ask for help," Father Lover added. "He was quiet and shy at times, but had a good sense of humor and could laugh at himself." Father Lover, who himself served in the Provincial Government and now is Baltimore’s canon lawyer, noted that Father Joseph Kerins chose Father Ryan as his consultor because "he was very honest and up-front so you always knew what John’s opinion was; he was a very capable fellow."

Having gotten to know Father Ryan in Boston during his own assignment there, Father Michael Hopkins said he was a wonderful minister of the house – kind, helpful and attentive to the confreres’ needs and preferences. Even in the midst of Boston’s "Big Dig," a years-long project that rerouted Interstate 93 through the center of the city, Father Ryan would offer to drive confreres to or from Logan Airport, an offer that went way beyond anyone’s reasonable expectations, Father Hopkins added. Father Ryan is survived by four of his sisters: Eileen M Ryan and Louise Ryan Lynch, both of Massachusetts, and School Sisters of Notre Dame M. Elizabeth Ryan and Patricia Ryan, both in Wilton, CT. He is predeceased by his sister, Sister Geraldine Ryan, SSND.

 

Rev. John Ryan C.Ss.R.

  • Born: November 21, 1927
  • Professed: August 2, 1948
  • Ordained: June 21, 1953
  • Died: April 17, 2008

 

Services

Sunday

After many years of suffering from various illnesses, Redemptorist Father William (Dick) Bonner died Sunday, April 13, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He was 73 years old.

Born April 3, 1935, he was the son of Joseph and Florence Campbell Bonner. He attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Boston, MA, and, even before he was considered old enough to serve at the altar, he came to love attending daily Mass.

After his eighth-grade graduation, he was accepted at the Redemptorists’ St. Mary’s Seminary in North East, PA, where he studied for six years. He completed his studies for the priesthood at Mount St. Alphonsus in Esopus, NY, making his first profession of vows in 1956 and his final profession in 1959. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 18, 1961.

Father Bonner’s first assignment was to St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, MD, where he served from 1963 to 1965. He was then assigned to Our Lady of Fatima Church in Baltimore, MD for the next three years. In 1968, he returned to his home parish, serving at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church) from 1968 to 1975. While there, he undertook full-time hospital ministry.

In 1975, Father Bonner was asked to serve in the then Vice-Province of San Juan, where he was stationed for three years in Mayaguez, three years in Caguas, and three years at San Lorenzo. Father Kevin Moley, a former Vice-Provincial of San Juan and later Baltimore Provincial, recalled that Father Bonner "was a pretty dedicated and hard-working guy." He was interested in every aspect of Redemptorist life and especially prayed for vocations, Father Moley added. "He was a man of strong opinions about everything and, even when he was sick, he never opted out of the discussions; we were certainly going to hear his opinions!" Father Moley said.

Father Bonner returned to the mainland in 1984, assigned as rector to St. Boniface Church in Philadelphia, PA, for the next three years. In the summer of 1987, he was sent to St. John Neumann Residence in Saratoga Springs, NY. It was about this time that he began to be plagued by one health problem after another, beginning with diabetes and, in 1988, with cancer of the lymph nodes. In 1996, he was feeling well enough to be assigned to Mount St. Alphonsus Retreat House, where he served as chaplain to the Redemptoristine Sisters, whose monastery is on the same property. He moved on to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Manhattan in 1999 and encountered what the rector, Father Francis O’Rourke, described as "a really tough time." He developed ulcers on his feet and cataracts on his eyes, Father O’Rourke said. Then, in 2000, Father Bonner underwent open-heart surgery and suffered ensuing complications. In 2005, his right foot became infected, his kidneys functioned at only a 37 percent capacity, and his left leg had to be amputated above the knee. "This January, he went into the hospital for dialysis, he was put in IC (Intensive Care) twice, and he kept bouncing back, until all his systems just shut down," Father O’Rourke said.

Father Moley noticed that during these years of suffering, Father Bonner grew more deeply spiritual and Father O’Rourke noted that he was in the chapel a lot, celebrating Mass, praying his office and the rosary. "I have great admiration for the way he accepted all the sicknesses he had," said his confrere Father John Devin. "Especially after the diagnosis of life-threatening cancer, I saw he had a very, very deep spiritual transformation. He became extremely present before the Eucharist in his later years." Not known as one to give up, Father Bonner became "our one-legged giant," Father Devin added. The fruits of that spirituality were shared with others. Brigid Tracy, a nurse/practitioner, said she met Father Bonner two years ago, when he was undergoing rehabilitation after the amputation. "He was an excellent patient and an inspiration to others," she said. "Even the nurses’ aides would ask me about him after he left here, because I would visit him at 61st Street. I’d try to see him at least once a week and whenever I needed to have a Mass said, I’d just call him," she added.

Up until the end of his life, Father Bonner continued to minister to others. Marilyn Povodator, who met him when one of her family members was undergoing rehab at the Jewish Home and Hospital, wrote her impressions of her "good friend": "From the first day I met him, I witnessed the powerful effect he had on others. I saw how he invited men and women, especially the newcomers, to sit with him at a long table in the dining room. I saw how he encouraged every patient to talk about themselves, their fears and their hopes. I saw how he made each person feel they were special to him. After meals, he would hang around so others could have a one-on-one with him.

"After Father Bonner was discharged, my cocker spaniel, Buddy, and I would visit with him at his home on 61st Street. It warmed my heart to see the pleasure he got from Buddy’s adoration of him. During our ongoing phone contact and e-mails, Father Bonner would always ask about my work and family. He would offer emotional support, share his insights, something I looked forward to and greatly respected. He was always spot on!"

 

Rev. William R. Bonner C.Ss.R.

  • Born: April 3, 1935
  • Professed: August 2, 1956
  • Ordained: June 18, 1961
  • Died: April 13, 2008

 

Services

Arrangements in Brooklyn, NY
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
526 59th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Viewing Wednesday, April 16
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Vigil Mass 5:00 p.m.

Arrangements in Boston, MA
Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church)
1545 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
Viewing Thursday, April 17
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Funeral Mass 10:30 am