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Province Mourns Death of Fr. William Ryan, OSA

While the Province of St. Augustine in California was gathered for an annual retreat in Ojai, Fr. William Ryan, OSA passed away on the morning of June 19th, 2018. An obituary written by the Catholic Sentinel can be found here. An account on Fr. Bill's ministry in Oregon can be found here.

Below reads his official Province Obituary:

Rev. William A. Ryan, O.S.A.

It is with sadness mixed with gratitude and joy that the Augustinian Province of St. Augustine in California announces the death of our brother, Rev. William (Bill) Ryan O.S.A. After several months of ill heath Fr. Bill died in the assisted living facility of At Home in Ojai, in Meiners Oak, California. He was a victim of esophageal cancer that had quickly metastasized to his lungs and liver. He died on June 19, 2018. Just before his death, he was visited by many of his parishioners, colleagues and friends from southern Oregon, where he ministered for thirty-six years. As part of God’s plan, it so happened that the majority of his brother friars from the province were on retreat in neighboring Ojai that week, so within a few hours after he died, they gathered around him and prayed the somber yet celestial Office of the Dead.

Bill was born in Albany, New York on October 31, 1939 to Catherine (Willi) Ryan and W. Gerard Ryan. His parents pre-deceased him, as did twin brothers who died at birth. In addition to the Augustinians, his brother Joseph G. Ryan survives him. During his first four years of school, Fr. Bill attended St. Joseph Parish School in Garden City, New York. His family then moved to Washington, D.C., where he attended St. Anthony School. It was during this time he was introduced to the Order of St. Augustine, when he attended all four years of high school at Archbishop Carroll High School --- which at that time was administered by the Augustinians. Anyone who knew Bill would not be surprised to discover that Bill was the captain of his high school debating team! In 1957 Bill entered the Augustinian Novitiate in New Hamburg, New York. His first profession of vows took place on September 10, 1958. His formation (seminary education) continued at St. Mary’s Hall at Villanova University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. He received a Masters of Religious Education from Augustinian College in Washington D.C., and entered a graduate studies program in Math at the Catholic University of America. He professed solemn vows in 1963, was ordained a deacon in 1965, and was ordained a priest at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on June 4, 1966.

Fr. Bill served on the faculty of Monsignor Bonner High School in Philadelphia from 1966 until 1969. Although he always displayed a desire to get involved in social issues, it was in Philadelphia where his (then-considered) progressive views met with acclaim and disdain. Consequently, he soon found himself assigned to the western region of the United States. During the next twelve years, he served in San Diego, Los Angeles (Our Mother of Good Counsel Church), and Ojai, California (Villanova Preparatory School.) It was in San Diego where his own personal experience tapped into the needs of those who might be defenseless. A swimming pool accident during his seminary days resulted in him suffering epilepsy. This experience caused him for many years to champion the Epileptic Aid Society of San Diego.

In 1969, Fr. Bill was assigned to minister to the people of southern Oregon. It was here that he developed a great passion for fishing, and relished his time on his small boat. He served in several ministries in that region. Much of his service was as the pastor of All Souls Parish in Myrtle Creek and a mission parish of Holy Family in Glendale. In addition to this, the wellsprings of his actions emanated from a clear dedication to the poor and the homeless. He established warming centers for itinerants, fed, boarded and clothed the homeless with an almost insatiable appetite to live out the Gospel message, as he prayerfully understood it.

A funeral mass for Fr. Bill was celebrated at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ojai on June 22, 2018. He is being cremated, and at a future date his ashes will be placed inside the same burial spot as his mother, Catherine Ryan, in Holy Cross Cemetery in San Diego.

Please remember in your prayers Fr. Bill, his brother Joe, his former parishioners, the Augustinian family, and the countless homeless and marginalized people he helped throughout his life.

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