Chattanooga celebrates Fr. Patrick Ryan Day

Local Basilica reflects on life, road to sainthood of historic priest

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly declared September 28, 2022, as Father Patrick Ryan Day throughout the Scenic City.

Fr. Patrick Ryan served as the pastor of Saints Peter and Paul’s parish from 1872 to 1878, preaching to and serving those suffering from the yellow fever epidemic.

He eventually died from the fever, himself, one day before turning 34 on September 28, 1878.

Instead of heading for the hills, he stayed here,” said Basilica Deacon Gaspar DeGaetano. “Just like today’s Gospel said, instead of leaving his work, he stayed and continued. He didn’t look away from his discipleship of being a holy plowman trying to cultivate the faith here in Chattanooga.”

Now, over 140 years since his passing, Ryan is on the four-step path to sainthood.

In 2016, he was declared a Servant of God by the Catholic Church — the first step of the journey.

“The second step is called ‘Venerable’ and that’s what a report is being worked on right now,” DeGaetano said. “Based on the report that would be developed based on the report that we submit from this diocese, we hope that Pope Francis would make him ‘Venerable.’ That’s step two.”

On his day of remembrance from both the church and city, Basilica security member Jason McCulley says there’s plenty to be taken away from Father Ryan’s life, including being there for your neighbor and loving him as you love yourself.

“To me, he’s a good example of what Chattanoogans do best — we look after our own,” McCulley said. “I think we need to follow his example and start thinking about caring for others more than our own petty, little needs. Our lives would be greatly enriched by that.”

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