Sr Loreto Mary Ryan 1938 – 2023
Born: 9th September 1937
Entered Religious Life: 5th February 1962
Died: 20th July 2023
Margaret Mary Philomena Ryan, daughter of Michael Ryan and Margaret Murray, was born in Montenotte, Cork, on 9th September 1938 and some time after moved with her family to Dublin. She entered the Religious Sisters of Charity on 5th February 1962 and was received into the Noviciate on 24th August 1962 taking the name Sr Loreto Mary. She was professed on 26th August 1964.
During her fifty-nine years of professed life Sr Loreto ministered in Airdrie, Madonna House, Merrion, Cappagh, Kilcreene, Richmond Road and Marmion House. In April 2022, due to failing health, Sr Loreto moved to Catherine McAuley Nursing Home where she spent fifteen very happy months. Loreto died peacefully there on 20th July 2023.
Loreto spent the first year after profession supplying as nurse in Airdrie, Madonna House and Merrion. In 1965 she was missioned to Cappagh Orthopaedic Hospital where she spent thirty-seven years in charge of St Teresa’s ward. Stories abound of her compassion, kindness and care and how she would visit each patient every day to check up with them and have a chat. It was said of Loreto that she was a wonderful Ward Manager for patients and staff alike. Loreto forged very deep and lasting friendships with the staff in Cappagh and continued to keep in touch with them when she finished her ministry there.
Following a Sabbatical, Loreto took up a new ministry in 2004 when she began work as a volunteer in Open Heart House, a community project in St Mary’s Place, Dublin 7. Each morning she would set off very early from Richmond Road walking no small distance to catch the first bus to Dominick Street where she joined the Dominicans for Morning Prayer and Mass before going to her work across the road in Open Heart House. Here, too, Loreto gave of herself 100% and made very many friends among the staff and clients which was very obvious from their visits to her in her final days.
In 2014 Open Heart House closed and Loreto found herself another ministry in the Education Centre, Holy Faith, Glasnevin. She attended twice a week and in rain, hail or snow got two buses to Glasnevin from Marmion House on the South side of the city. Loreto loved her work with the young people whom she helped develop literacy skills. Finally, Loreto had to give up this ministry when health challenges presented.
An outstanding aspect of Loreto’s commitment as a Religious Sister of Charity was her deep prayer life. She spent many hours before the Blessed Sacrament – a place you would be sure to find her – and she was devoted to Mass, the Divine Office and the rosary. She loved Our Lady and the annual Kindness Pilgrimages to Lourdes were the joy of her life as she accompanied sick people and looked after them on the pilgrimage.
Another aspect of Loreto’s character was her sense of justice. She was fearless in standing up for anyone whom she felt was being treated unfairly. It was said of her that she would go to the highest authority in her workplace to make the case for that person.
Loreto was blessed with a very warm heart and a great sense of fun. She loved any social event and she would always want to attend whenever she could. In Catherine McAuley Nursing Home she managed to get out to some wonderful entertainments and she revelled in the concerts which the Nursing Home occasionally provided for their residents.
Loreto was always totally relaxed and at home with the people she met and she had the sharpest memory for the names and circumstances of anyone she had ever encountered. It was rightly said of her that “she lived in the moment and was accepting of everyone”. It was this acceptance of people, no matter who they were, that endeared her to those she met.
The Congregation was very dear to the heart of Loreto and she never missed attending the celebrations on July 22nd and August 15th. She especially loved the Province Days and still insisted on attending in latter times, even when she was quite ill.
Loreto’s family was very dear to her and she to them. She had a wonderful bond with her three sisters and always got excited over going away for a break – just the four of them together.
In the final years of her illness, Loreto took it all in her stride. She never complained of her illness and her enduring sense of fun and good humour was a blessing to those around her.
Loreto has left all of us with many happy memories of someone who enjoyed life to the full and who gave herself unstintingly to the Lord and to every person she met.
May she now rest in peace forever. Amen.