With all the news stories regarding priests and their alleged abuse of youth in their care, I want to relate a positive story about a priest of my youth, and the effect he had on me and many other young men.
Father James Ryan was a new priest assigned to Sacred Heart parish in Bayside, Queens (Diocese of Brooklyn) in the mid-1950s. He immediately made his positive mark with families and their children.
My personal association with him, like many other boys, was his work with us to become altar boys, learning about our religion, the Mass in Latin and patiently teaching us the altar boys’ responses.
Once a year, out of his own pocket, he would hire a bus and take all the boys to Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island, for a day of fun and food, something we were not accustomed to, due to family finances and other conditions. We are thankful to this day, not only for that but also for his spiritual guidance and obvious care and concern for us.
I am now 75, a father, grandfather, military veteran and retired NYPD officer. Father Ryan’s positive influence on my life is one of the main reasons I am the man I am today.
Father Ryan, later Monsignor Ryan, was truly a man of God, and what the Catholic Church and our religion is all about.
What we read and hear today about some of the Church’s clergy is beyond a tragedy, and needs to be dealt with severely, so that it stops and is never repeated. I think Father Ryan would be ashamed and extremely dismayed by these actions, as he represented all that is good about our Church and our God.