We are here today to celebrate the life of a woman who could truly be called a long-haul lover. The Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard has said that “purity of heart is to will one thing”, and Margaret Patricia Ryan did just that. She was a very focused woman whose spirituality guided her life very deeply. She never let things get too complex. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1940 and did what we all did then – she taught in elementary school.
While carrying a full teaching load and all the chores of convent life she earned a BA from Manhattan College and a Masters in Latin from St. Johns. After 20 years in Elementary school Margaret went to Mary Louis as the first of her four High School teaching experiences. For the next 30 years she taught Latin, English and Humanities in TMLA, Fontbonne, St. Brendan’s and St. Savior. Margaret was a good teacher and was known as someone who was easy to work with. “Always willing to help” is the oft repeated phrase that came very spontaneously when I asked sisters about her.
Margaret’s family was very much a part of her care and concern as were the sisters she lived with. She is known as a woman who would put aside her own needs in a minute to do for others in the house. She was hospitable and gentle. Her own spirituality was Eucharistic. When teaching in St. Saviors she was on the six o’clock bus every day so she could attend liturgy before school. Her prayerfulness and devotion to Gospel were evident to all who knew her.
I think it would not be stretching a point to say that she was, in her own quiet way, theologically ahead of her time. In these last few decades theology has taken on a new emphasis regarding the sacredness of all creation. All that God created has intrinsic worth and is not put here to simply serve us. Margaret’s love of dogs and cats was a foreshadowing of things the academic community came to a bit later. She knew naturally that God loves all that God has made.
May her love and care continue to inspire and guide us and may you rest in peace, Margaret.
Sister Margaret Patricia Ryan, CSJ died on January 25, 2015 in the 75th year of her religious life.