Some Personal Reflections
When I was ordained in 1961, I was assigned to Tolentine College, in Olympia Fields, IL. At that time Tolentine served as the collegiate seminary and the first two years of the minor seminary high school. Ray was in charge of the high school students and I was appointed as his assistant. As we worked very closely together, we became good friends.
Later in 1971 Ray was elected as Provincial of our Midwest Province. In 1968 a General Chapter of the Order held at Villanova had adopted new Constitutions for the Order. This meant many changes in the Province, so that Ray was the first Provincial elected under the new system. In the interval between the Chapters, I had been on the commission to frame new procedures for the Province. Knowing this, Ray asked me to become Secretary of the Province, and I accepted. Ray's provincialate inaugurated a new era in the life of the Province. Many important decisions had to be made about our apostolates and houses and a new spirit infused into the membership. He was not afraid to make hard decisions and to take reasonable risks. Ray was the right man to do the job and he was elected for a second term.
In his dealings with the individual religious, Ray tried to deal fairly with everyone. He was a good listener and many men had great confidence in him. He was willing to take time with each person even if that meant interfering with the schedule. I remember telling him on one occasion that he didn't know how to say goodbye.
In 1984, I was elected Provincial and Ray was elected to serve on the Provincial Council. Ray gave good advice based on his experience and knowledge of the various situations. I had given my opinion to him when I was secretary for him, but I soon found out that giving advice and being in the hot seat were two different realities!
After my term ended, Ray was elected again as Provincial in 1987. Because of other assignments, I did not see Ray as much although we remained good friends and could share freely in our conversations. After ending his third term, Ray returned to formation work. Over the years, Ray served as director in every step of formation. He was even called out of semi-retirement to serve as Novice Director for a year.
I believe that Father Ryan deserves to have the honor of having our Province fund for the education and formation of our students named after him. He gave many years of his life to that work and helped many young men to discern their vocations. His service to the Province was truly remarkable and his life serves as a model for those aspiring to membership in Order and Province.
Fr. Karl Gersbach, O.S.A.