Celebrating a Man for Others: William F. Ryan, S.J. (1925-2017)

Center of Concern | Fri, Sep 8, 2017

In Memoriam: William F. Ryan, S.J., Founding Chief Executive of Center of Concern.

It is my sad duty to report the passing away this morning of Center of Concern's founding chief executive, the Rev. Dr. William F. Ryan, S.J. Father Ryan played an essential role as the first chief executive of Center of Concern. Superior General Arrupe and Bishop Bernardin represented the Jesuits and the American bishops, respectively, at UN Secretary General U Thant's office in 1971 in creating this global voice for social justice from Catholic social tradition. However, it was Fr. Ryan who took responsibility for strategy and implementation over the eight years of his leadership, including wisely inviting women religious to play important roles as angel investors and leaders on the Center team and board. He believed in the Center and in the good work we could accomplish on our shared journey, and he rallied the people and resources to make it happen.

We remain grateful that this Harvard-educated economist from Canada embedded in the Center's culture, and in his continuing service to the Society of Jesus, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, International Development Resources Centre, and Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice, an enduring global consciousness of care for our common home and one another. In his graciousness, intelligence, and concern for people, Fr. Ryan exemplified Ignatian tradition and the spirit of Vatican II and prefigured for us the courageous and prophetic engagement of Pope Francis. Father Ryan was a Jesuit's Jesuit, embodying pastoral, thought, and executive leadership that continues to inspire the Center as it celebrates its 47th year of service. It is a bittersweet weekend for the Center team, as his passing comes exactly at the time that the Center is moving into its third home, modern new offices two blocks from the White House.

The Center of Concern family always will remember Fr. Ryan with gratitude, affection, respect, and joy. We'll work hard to sustain and honor his legacy by keeping the Center a place for hospitality, collaboration, and convening for productive dialogue and action to bridge the signs of the times on the world's front pages wtih Catholic social tradition. We'll nourish for this century what Fr. Ryan started in the last through our growing research, education, and advocacy in public and private centers of influence on the world stage.

Please join the Center team and board in remembering this remarkable man in your thoughts and prayers and in honoring his example as a prominent voice for global social justice. As he showed us the way, let us together show others how to work for social justice, care for our common home and one another, and build a new humanity.

Lester A. Myers
Center of Concern

To read a remembrance by Michael Swan from The Catholic Register, please visit: