The canonization cause is progressing for Father Patrick Ryan, a priest who sacrificed his life in a nineteenth century yellow fever epidemic to serve the sick. Bishop Richard Stika of Nashville, Tenn., has launched an official tribunal to continue the inquiry into whether he should be declared ‘venerable.’
“Father Patrick Ryan did not abandon Chattanooga when the yellow fever struck her and leave town as so many did,” Deacon Gaspar DeGaetano, diocesan postulator for Ryan’s cause, said in a Sept. 27 homily.
“May we through the intercession of the Servant of God Patrick Ryan, ‘the brave and faithful priest’ of the yellow fever epidemic of 1878 see a quick end to the pandemic of our own time,” DeGaetano said.
Servant of God Patrick Ryan was born in 1845 near Nenagh in County Tipperary, Ireland. His family was forced to emigrate to the United States after suffering eviction from their home, and they settled in New York.
Ryan later studied for the priesthood at St. Vincent’s College in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In 1869, he was ordained a priest at Nashville’s Catholic cathedral. Later, he was sent to Chattanooga, where he opened the town’s oldest private school.
During a yellow fever epidemic in 1878, some 80% of Chattanooga residents fled the city. Ryan did not.
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