Posted by: Fr Chris | September 19, 2020

A Priest to Pray to during an Epidemic

UPDATE: The Road to Sainthood: Father Patrick Ryan's first session for Beatification and ...

Father Patrick Ryan was born in Ireland in 1845, during the Great Famine. His family emigrated to America, and he became a priest for the Diocese of Nashville in 1869. As pastor of the only parish in Chattanooga he covered southeastern Tennessee as well as the city. He brought in the Nashville Dominican Sisters to establish a Catholic school, traveled from town to town, and was well-liked.

In 1878 Chattanooga was hit by an epidemic of yellow fever. About 80% of the city’s population fled, but he stayed behind. He went from house to house ministering to the sick while keeping the parish going. Inevitably he contracted the deadly disease, which was carried by mosquitoes. His younger brother was newly ordained, and he came to anoint his dying older brother. Father Ryan died on September 28, 1878, aged thirty-three. Modern American Catholics don’t know that most American priests did not live beyond the age of fifty in the mid to late-1800’s – the work was strenuous, diseases rampant. Any Catholic man who became a priest had a short life expectancy, but this did not deter vocations.

Given his life, and that he knew first-hand what life can be like in an epidemic, I think he would be a good advocate for us in this difficult time.

Saints Peter and Paul Basilica - Wikipedia
Saints Peter and Paul basilica, Chattanooga

Heavenly Father, who inspired the Servant of God, Fr. Patrick Ryan, former pastor of this parish, to be a model of charity in action during the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, grant, we beseech you, that his heroic charity be recognized by Your Church, and that he be elevated to the full honor of sainthood. May we, too, be inspired by his example to that same measure of charity toward all our brothers and sisters in need. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen. 

Oración por el P. Patrick Ryan, Siervo de Dios

Padre Celestial, que inspiraste al Siervo de Dios, P. Patrick Ryan, ex pastor de esta parroquia, para ser un modelo de caridad en acción durante la epidemia de fiebre amarilla de 1878, concede, te rogamos, que su heroica caridad  sea reconocida por Tu Iglesia, y que  sea elevado al honor pleno de santidad. Que nosotros, también, seamos inspirados por su ejemplo con la misma medida de caridad para con todos nuestros hermanos y hermanas necesitados. Te lo pedimos en el nombre de Jesús, tu Hijo, que vive y reina contigo en la unidad de la Espíritu Santo y es Dios por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.


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