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).

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.

Posted in Obituaries

8 responses to “Sr. Lorraine Ryan, OP

  1. I had the joy of talking with her a few years ago. So very blessed. She was my fist grade teacher at St. Patrick’s school in Lynn MA.

    1. Sister John Mary aka Sister Lorraine Ryan was my first-grade teacher at St. Patrick’s in West Lynn and we were her first class of students. She was everything you wanted a teacher to be and more. How she managed to corral 55 five and six-year-olds into a responsive unit I’ll never know, but she did it. She also had a great arm, she could throw an eraser with pinpoint accuracy. In later years I told her she would have helped the Red Sox bullpen greatly. The last time I saw her even though I knew she was now Sister Lorraine I called her Sister John Mary because that is who she will always be to me, my first teacher, and I loved her then as I do now.
      Every student who had her adored her because she brought out the best in each of us and made us want to do and be better tomorrow than we were today.

      1. I think I may also have been in that class. I have so many memories of Sister John Mary, of her struggles to get us all into and out of our winter hats and coats and snow pants and boots, of the reading groups (St. Thomas, St. Catherine, and one more?), I remember the first word I learned to read: Look, which she wrote on the board and put two eyes in the two OOs. Tracing circles using the top of milk bottles and writing the numbers from 1-100 in the circles. Black boxes of letters that we used to spell out words. The first grade girls performing in a show as Irish colleens (Tura-lura-lura that’s an Irish lullaby) and the boys as Indians. I remember her April Fool’s joke, telling us there was an elephant in the back of the room! It was the 1957-58 school year.

  2. Sister John Mary was my first teacher … in the first grade, at St. Patrick School, in Lynn … I even have a drawing of her, from that time, made during our art class, with her wearing the large Dominican habit-headgear of the time … I am so very sad to hear of her death, as I cannot imagine her as not bustling about and making other people happy … I remember one class-outing she arranged—to Franklin Park Zoo. My mother helped her out that day, and had a hardest time keeping up with Sister’s car as she zoomed along the Jamaicaway! (Often, I think of Sister as I drive that route.) She was only in her mid-twenties when she taught me; and that is always how she will be with me in my heart.

  3. Sr. Lorraine was part of an amazing team with Frs. Conroy & Geary at St. Theresa’s Parish in North Reading thru much of my formative years. I looked forward to Mass each week because I learned so much. Sr. Lorraine took me under her wing because my family had moved a few times & I”d missed out on religious ed. She taught me all I needed to know to receive my 1st communion while in the 4th grade, and so much more after that.
    Sr.Lorraine stayed in touch w/me while I was in college. We openly discussed the possibility of me becoming a sister. Although I did not, Lorraine’s influence, affect, love…. on me is irrefutable. I feel her with me always and feel blessed that I was touched by her love.
    WE love you. Peace, sister

  4. sister Lorraine (sister john mary) was my 6th grade teacher
    at saint joseph school in Belmont. it was her first year at
    the school(1960) coming from saint Patrick school in west
    lynn her first assignment teaching the third grade for one year and then first grade for 5 years. we were all in awe of
    sister Lorraine she was an unconventional teacher and loved
    to tell stories of her upbringing in south boston. many do
    not know that sister’s mother Phyllis was a convert and
    she had one sister maryann who had 7 children, unfortunately maryann passed away quite young and sister Lorraine was devoted to her nephews and nieces.
    sister was very creative and always had the most detailed
    bulletin boards and may shine. she loved to have parties for all the holidays. sister taught at saint josephs for 14 years. 1960 to 1974. I was thrilled when entering the 8th
    grade and sister Lorraine was again my teacher. I have kept
    in tough with sister for many years and just recently spoke with her on the phone. my memories are solid
    of this period in my life and sister Lorraine was a big
    part of it.

  5. I loved Sister Lorraine from the moment I met her nine years ago while visiting Boston. She was a very loving woman and certainly up front about what she thought! I think that sometimes got her in trouble, but she didn’t care. Why, because as Sister Rosemary so eloquently stated, Sister Lorraine really knew what love and forgiveness was all about. As Sister Patricia taught the postulants ” 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.” How beautiful. I will say a Mass forwww. Sister Lorraine and I will ask her to say a prayer for me.

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