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Sr. Lorraine Ryan, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Lorraine Ryan, OP (85), died on March 23, 2017, at Sansbury Care Center, St. Catharine, KY. She was born in 1931 in Boston, MA, to Phyllis and John Ryan.

After graduating from high school, she worked for two years at the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company. During that time she discerned God's call by discussing her desire to enter religious life with several Sisters and a pastor who knew her well. In a letter to Mother Margaret Elizabeth expressing her gratitude for having been accepted to the postulancy, Lorraine wrote that she would pray daily "for the grace to persevere in the vocation" to which she had been called.

A Dominican for 62 years, Sr. Lorraine earned a Bachelor of Arts in History/Social Studies from Regis College (Weston, MA) and a Master of Science in Education/History from Salem State College (Salem, MA). She also earned a Certificate of Advanced Educational Specialization in Religious Education from Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA).

Sr. Lorraine ministered as a teacher at St. Patrick (Lynn, MA) and St. Joseph (Belmont, MA). In 1971 she moved into pastoral ministry and religious education while still at St. Joseph Parish in Belmont. She later ministered as Director of Religious Education and Pastoral Assistant at St. Theresa Parish (N. Reading, MA), Our Lady of the Sea (Marblehead, MA), St. Joseph (Amesbury, MA); St. Bernard (W. Newton, MA) and St. Francis of Assisi (Medford, MA).

Sr. Lorraine Ryan, OP

In 2010, Sr. Lorraine moved to Sansbury Care Center (St. Catharine, KY), where she entered a ministry of prayer and presence.

In her reflection at the funeral, Sr. Rosemary Rule, OP, said:

Most of us choose our own readings for our funeral. The three scriptures that we heard today were Sr. Lorraine's choice [Ephesians 4:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13; John 15:12-16a].

Why do we make the choices we do for our readings? What is our mindset when we are thinking about which ones we want for our funeral? Are we visualizing who will come to our funeral, how upset they will be; who won't be able to make it? I'm willing to bet that each of us have occasional fantasies about the last formal ceremony where we will be the central focus.

Maybe we pick readings that convey a message to our imagined congregation. Maybe we pick readings that were very meaningful to us during a special retreat. Maybe we pick readings that express our own lifelong challenges. Whatever the theme, the readings tell a lot about the person who has chosen them.

All three of Lorraine's scriptures were about relationships. How does God want us to be with one another? What is love, what makes community good, possible, happy?

"This is my commandment, love one another as I have loved you." What will this bring? Joy. "That your joy may be full." What a lovely thing that our God wants us to love and be joyful!

When we were postulants, Sr. Patricia told us that we had to love each other. She said that didn't necessarily mean that we had to like one another. She defined love for us in philosophical terms. Love means to will the good for another - in other words, not an emotion, but an act of the mind. When God commands us to love, he directs us to will the good of another.

So according to 1 Corinthians, when we don't brood over injuries, when we focus on the truth, when we strive for patience, we are practicing the "greatest of these which is love."

What were Sr. Lorraine's reasons for having us hear these scriptures at her funeral? Did she want us to know that she tried? That she was grateful for our love? In her last years she repeatedly told us that she loved us. After her stroke she would hold on tight and repeat "I love you." Was this her way of getting ready for her great union with the One who loves us all unconditionally?

Eight years ago my family and I toured Boston and stayed at Rosary Manor. The Sisters could not have been more welcoming. My niece, who has Down Syndrome, got up earlier than the rest of us. Every morning she would go to the community room where Lorraine was. They would eat breakfast; watch the news, and gossip about who knows what. There are no words to say what Lorraine's hospitality meant to our family. Many others would tell you similar stories. Lorraine loved company. She loved to meet new people, especially of the other gender, and loved to tell us about those in her life who made her feel special.

All of us want to love and be loved. Jesus tells us in John's Gospel that this will bring us joy. Thank you, Lorraine, for these readings. Go in peace to the One who loves you most of all.

The wake and Mass of Christian Burial were held March 29 and 30 at the Sansbury Care Center Chapel. Burial followed in the St. Catharine Motherhouse cemetery.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Lorraine's memory may be submitted securely online or sent to Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus, OH 43219.

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