On the morning of July 18 I received a letter from Sister Monique-Marie of the Community of the Beatitudes at Lisieux telling me that Fr. J. Linus Ryan, O. Carm., director of the National Office for St. Therese in Ireland and a dear friend, died on the morning of July 17, a little before eight o'clock Dublin time. Father Ryan consecrated his life to making St. Therese and her gentle Jesus known and loved, and he was tireless in promoting the cause of her parents, Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin. He contributed much to causing 75% of the population of Ireland to turn out to venerate the major reliquary of St. Therese when it visited Ireland in 2001, to the annual visit of the relics of St. Therese to Ireland every year, and to the Irish National Pilgrimage to Lisieux on the feast of St. Therese every year. With his devoted co-workers, he maintained a Web site about St. Therese. Every year his office produced a calendar and a brochure; these were focused recently on the Martin family.
For a bigger photo of Father Ryan wearing the stole commissioned for the beatification of the Martin spouses which was presented to him by the authorities at Lisieux and holding the reliquary containing the relics of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, click the image. Msgr. Lagoutte, rector of the shrine at Lisieux, traveled to Ireland in May to present the reliquary to Father Ryan in recognition of his lifetime of dedicated service to the apostolate of St. Therese.
I became acquainted with Father Ryan through his Web site, which contained more information about St. Therese and the Martin family than I found elsewhere in English. I wrote to him for permission to link to it, and he was generosity itself in sharing all his materials with me. I knew how hard he worked to promote the cause of Louis and Zelie in Ireland, and I knew that it was largely because of him that, as Mgr. Lagoutte, rector of the shrine at Lisieux, said, "Ireland has led the world" in promoting the cause of Lous and Zelie. So, in January 2008, when I found online the first news story stating that the Martin spouses were to be beatified in 2008, I wrote at once to congratulate him. Of course, I thought he knew this news before I did, but he answered asking for documentation and saying that he'd known nothing of it. I sent the link to the news article, and at about seven p.m. my time (two o'clock in the morning in Dublin), he called me, grateful and jubilant. After we talked for a while, I said "Father Ryan, it's the middle of the night where you are. What are you doing up?" "Oh, it's a big night here," he answered. "We are letting everyone know." After that he kindly called me every month or so, always thoughtful and supportive. He rejoiced in our work to make Therese and Louis and Zelie known in the English-speaking world, and he sent to the United States posters and post cards to help us make the Martin spouses better known. Sometimes I became discouraged by having only nights and weekends to devote to Therese and Louis and Zelie, but Father Ryan's spirit of faith never failed him. He encouraged me constantly in the months before the beatification, when we worked long hours to make Louis and Zelie known. Illness prevented him from attending the beatification he did so much to promote. When I regretted it, he accepted it with truly Theresian surrender. His devoted confere, Mr. Pat Sweeney, told me that Father Ryan regained consciousness on the night before his death, and that they had a good talk. Mr. Sweeney pointed out laughingly that, although Fr. Ryan clung to life till the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was over in Ireland, at the time of his death it was before midnight on Thursday, July 16 in the United States. So all the Americans who benefited from his commitment to making the spirituality of the Martin family known in English had the joy of offering him to God on the feast of the Lady of his Order.
Please visit here for more about Father Ryan.
Be sure that he says to us what Therese said to her spiritual brother: "Dear little Brother, there are many things I should like to make you understand now that I am at the door of eternity, but I am not dying; I am entering into life, and all that I cannot say to you here below, I shall make you understand from the heights of heaven." Join with me, if you please, in thanking God for the apostolic life and happy death of the man who was such a good friend to St. Therese, to me, and to "Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway." Now that St. Therese and Blessed Louis and Zelie have received their faithful son into their family in heaven, let's invoke his intercession confidently, knowing he will help us to share in their mission "to love Jesus and to make Him loved."
With Sister Monique-Marie's kind permission, I post below her letter announcing his death and giving the information about his funeral ceremonies.
A word to inform you of the entry into life on July 17 of a great Theresian figure in Ireland, Father Linus Ryan. He worked ardently to spread the message of Therese, for the reception of her relics, and for the beatification of the Martin parents. He, among others, was the intermediary through whom the beautiful reliquary—that we now call the “Irish reliquary”—of Louis and Zélie was offered. A debilitating disease which made him suffer terribly prevented him from coming to Lisieux for years, but he remained in constant contact with us by telephone, and he continued to work with his faithful collaborators, who came every year to Lisieux on the Irish National Pilgrimage. Three or four months ago, Msgr. Lagoutte, the rector of the shrine at Lisieux, went to visit Father Ryan and to give him a beautiful reliquary of the Martin parents. It appears in the photograph. It was time for Father Ryan to be set free, for he had lost the sight in one eye and had started to lose it in the other. But never a complaint . . . He retained an exquisite kindness for all his visitors. Thank you for keeping him in your prayers, together with his family, his Carmelite brothers, his friends, and his collaborators, for they will no doubt feel a great emptiness even though, for Father Ryan himself, it is a real delivery. Ria and I will represent the Pilgrimage Office at Lisieux at Fr. Ryan’s burial, which will take place on Monday, July 20. The Mass will be at 11:00 a.m. in Terenure College, Dublin, where he lived with his community of friars of the Ancient Observance of the Carmelite Order. He will be buried in the cemetery of White Abbey, in Kildare, the city from which he came, and of which he was so proud.
For those who knew him or had bonds with him, you can always send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org His collaborators, especially Mr. Pat Sweeney, will open it.