A funeral Mass for Father Joseph Ryan was celebrated Jan. 16 at Immaculate Conception Church in Dardenne Prairie. Father Ryan was a retired parish priest who served 27 years in the archdiocese's Latin American Apostolate in Bolivia and Chile. He also served in Venezuela.
Father Ryan, 93, died Jan. 11. Born in St. Louis, he was ordained in 1951 by then-Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter. His first assignment was as assistant pastor of St. Joachim Parish in Old Mines. He was named assistant pastor of St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Pagedale in 1952.
From 1958-63, Father Ryan served as a missionary at Christ the King Parish in La Paz, Bolivia. He served briefly as assistant pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Glasgow Village before returning to South America as a missionary in Arica, Chile, from 1964-68. In 1970 he went to Caracas, Venezuela, remaining with the Archdiocese of Caracas until 1985 as pastor of the parish of La Navidad del Senor. Father Ryan moved from Caracas to the Island of Margarita attending fishing villages until 1988 when he returned to St. Louis.
Father Ryan was associate pastor of St. Roch Parish in St. Louis from 1968-70; associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Crystal City, 1988-90; senior priest in service at St. Ferdinand Parish in Florissant, 1990-92; and senior priest in service at Holy Rosary Parish in Warrenton, 1992-95.
Father Ryan, who was active with the Knights of Columbus, retired in 1995 and helped out at parishes in Florida for several years.
On a visit in 2006 to Bolivia for the 50th anniversary of the Latin America Apostolate, Father Ryan talked about how much he enjoyed his life there and the friendships he made. He was surprised to see people listening to the radio in Bolivia, something he didn't see when he was there. Yet much remained the same, he said, including the economic structure. He recalled that at one point during a revolution in Bolivia, a machine gun rattled every night to let people know the curfew had begun.
Survivors include a brother, Dennis Ryan, and a sister, Mary Louise Herbst.