Fr Anthony Ryan

History Corner
By Brian Johnston

FrAnthonyRyanFather Anthony Ryan was the chaplain for Catholic Oral Deaf in Sydney from 1964 until his death in 1971. He also assisted Father William Malone, the chaplain for the deaf during that period. It was most remarkable that he was also a Doctor and a brilliant academic and scholar.

Although Fr Ryan had the background and qualification to be a seminary professor or lecturer he was completely dedicated to the work of providing religious instruction for Catholic deaf children in state schools and working with adult deaf.

He gained his Licentiate of Sacred Theology at St Patrick’s College, Manly, and studied for his doctorate of philosophy in Germany and Rome. Fr Ryan mastered the sign language in a very
short time and also spoke German, French and Italian.

He was born in Queanbeyan NSW and graduated in medicine in 1951. He worked as a doctor in Newcastle and Sydney before he entered the Springwood seminary in 1953. He was ordained a priest in Sydney in 1958. He further studied in Rome and ill health and a back injury forced him to Australia before he completed his course. He became a chaplain at St Gabriel’s Deaf School at Castle Hill in 1963 and during this time he continued and completed his work for his Doctorate. He returned to Rome to successfully defend his thesis and gain his Ph.D. Later he obtained his licentiate of the Australian Association of Teachers of the Deaf.

Sadly, Fr Ryan, of St Gabriel’s Deaf School, died of cancer on 23 January 1971 at the age of 42 years. Many deaf people attended the funeral of beloved Fr Ryan at Manly (his body was donated to a university). Many deaf people will remember that because of his back injury Fr Ryan used to sit on a chair saying Deaf Mass. He must be a brave man to do so! Br Gerald McGrath of St Gabriel’s described Fr Anthony Ryan as a saintly priest of God leading a life of heroic sanctity which he enriched by the Sacramental character of a very ordinary hidden life.

Sources: Obituary in The Catholic Weekly and St Gabriel’s Newsletter. Originally appeared in Ephpheta Newsletter Aug – Nov 2013.

Click to access 2013%20Aug-Nov%20eBook.pdf

Author: ephpheta

Community Liaison Officer for Ephpheta Centre

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