Bishop Joseph F. Ryan
1937 - 1973


Bishop Joseph F. Ryan
Credit: Bochsler Studios Photography

Bishop Joseph F. Ryan was the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Hamilton. He was a "true son of the diocese", having been born and raised within the Hamilton area. He was born in Dundas, Ontario on 1 March 1897, raised in St. Mary's Parish, Hamilton, and educated at St. Jerome's College in Waterloo. After theological studies at St. Augustine's Seminary in Toronto he was ordained by Bishop Dowling on 21 May 1921, at St. Patrick's Church in Hamilton. He served for five years at his home parish, St. Mary's. In 1926 he was sent to Rome for two years of post-graduate studies in Canon Law. Upon his return to Hamilton he served as the priest at St. Mary’s Hamilton. When the new Cathedral of Christ the King was opened in 1933, Bishop McNally appointed Ryan as its first rector. When Bishop McNally became Archbishop of Halifax in 1937, Pope Pius XI named Joseph Ryan the Bishop of Hamilton. His consecration took place in the Cathedral of Christ the King on 19 October 1937.

The dominant characteristic of Bishop Ryan's long episcopacy was growth. Rapid population growth in Canada during his time as Bishop required him to open more than fifty new parishes, doubling the existing number. Twelve of these were created to serve various ethnic groups that had arrived from eastern and southern Europe. Bishop Reding devoted a considerable amount of time and much of the diocese's resources to promoting Catholic education. He expanded high school education throughout the diocese, created many new elementary schools, and helped to upgrade the status of St. Jerome's College in Waterloo to that of a degree-granting institution. Bishop Ryan possessed a deep love for the Blessed Mother. One manifestation of this devotion was the annual Marian Day Rally, which continued for twenty-five years. Bishop Ryan attended the four sessions of the Second Vatican Council and skilfully guided the diocese through the period of change that followed. Bishop Ryan generously responded to the appeals by Popes John XXIII and Paul VI for North American bishops to assist the Church in Latin America. A diocesan mission was established in Teculutan, Guatemala in 1963. On 27 March 1973 Bishop Ryan submitted his resignation as Bishop of Hamilton. He died on 22 March 1990.

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