The U.S. bishops gathered at their annual fall General Assembly in Baltimore, have approved by a voice vote the canonical consultation of four causes for beatification and canonization, including the cause for Servant of God Father Patrick Ryan, a diocesan priest who served in Chattanooga in the late 1800’s.
Bishop Richard F. Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville made his case for Father Ryan’s cause at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore on Tuesday.
Episcopal consultation is a step in the Catholic Church’s process toward declaring a person a saint.
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Bishop Stika initiated the Cause for Sainthood for Father Ryan on June 14 after Father David Carter, rector at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga, and Deacon Gaspar DeGaetano, met with Vatican officials in March. The Vatican has encouraged the effort, although any official pronouncement on sainthood could be years, if not decades, away.
“Presenting Father Ryan’s cause to the full assembly of bishops is part of the formal process in moving someone toward sainthood. I am looking forward to making my brother bishops aware of Father Ryan’s act of martyrdom. Even though it happened many years ago, Father Ryan’s work administering to the sick exemplifies charity and selflessness and remind us of how we should serve others,” Bishop Stika said earlier in the week.
The Diocese of Knoxville considers Father Ryan a martyr of charity for his work serving victims of the yellow fever epidemic in Chattanooga in the late 19th century. Father Ryan eventually contracted the illness and died on Sept. 28, 1878.
(The USCCB contributed to this story)