Fr. Martin Ryan, CSsR
Still Waters: Reminiscing the Silent and Deep Fr. Martin Ryan, CSsR
by Shaun Silagan, CSsR
At around 6:20 in the evening of June 5, our cook in SAAFCO community notified me of a telephone call. When I answered the phone, a Redemptorist brother from Ireland was looking for Frs. Aidan and Noel. Since both were out of reach at that time, the brother relayed to me the sad news of Fr. Martin Ryan’s demise just two hours ago. He was found lifeless in his room. Although Fr. Martin had been ill for quite some time already, the news about his death was totally unexpected.
Fr. Martin played a special role in my formation. He was my formator in my last two years in St. Alphonsus Collegiate Formation House and also in my second Postulancy in Dumaguete. I remember him as a silent yet deep and insightful man. I looked up to him since the time I encountered him in College. During community meetings in the seminary Fr. Martin was always at the back, listening and observing. I found him reserved and shy. I never thought that a priest could also be shy and silent. And yet, his silence and shyness left a mark in me. As a collegian struggling to live in a community and was striving to get out of my shell, his introverted traits inspired me to continue.
Not only that I can relate to some of his qualities, but also as a formator, he motivated me to be myself. He assured me that I can be who I am and reminded me that God calls us as we are. Fr. Martin was understanding and compassionate but he was objective in decisions regarding the formation. He had a unique charisma as a formator. His words were few, yet deep and profound. I admired his ability to listen to spoken words and also to read gestures.
Living with Fr. Martin for a few months in Postulancy made me knew of him as a person. He was a passionate person, but he also had his own weaknesses and limitations. Every light has its own shadow, indeed. But I am grateful to Fr. Martin for guiding me to see my own light, and for expressing his words of encouragement and sincere care. When I reached theology, he became a member of the OPC. And he never ceased to guide me see my own light. I will reminisce all the short but inspiring chats we had each time he visited Davao.
Being assigned here now in SACFH, I am standing on the shoulders of the giants, and I can only hold on to the words of Fr. Martin; just be yourself. I may not have the depth and profundity of his words but I fervently hope that in my own little ways, I can pass on to the new generation of collegians the things that I learned from my formators and from the silent and deep- the great Fr. Martin Ryan. That, I believe, only God knows how.
The death occurred unexpectedly on Friday June 5th in Marianella, Dublin, of our confrere Fr. Martin Ryan, aged 63. R.I.P.
Fr. Martin was from Templederry in Co. Tipperary. He took his first vows as a Redemptorist on September 1st 1970, in Esker. He was ordained priest on 10th June, 1979.
Fr. Martin spent most of his priestly life in the Philippine Islands, only returning from there about six years ago, due to ill health. While in Dublin, he worked for a few years in Aughrim Street Parish, and only left there following a bad fall and injury about two years ago.
Martin was much loved among us for his zest for life, his passion for hurling, especially for his beloved Tipp., and we learned to avoid him whenever Tipp lost out in key matches. He had a passion for people and for the Gospel, and was an utterly dedicated man in his ministry as a Redemptorist Missionary. He will be greatly missed, and his memory will be cherished, in his beloved Philippines. At a very crucial time during martial law, he was a rock of strength and wisdom in Bacolod.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Fr. Martin is survived by his sister Mary, his brothers Tom, Pierce, Jim, and Fr. Matt. He was pre-deceased by his brothers Andy and Terrence. He is mourned by all his wider family, and by all of us in the Redemptorist family, in Ireland and in the Philippines and elsewhere, together with so many people who loved him dearly in the Philippines.