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Ryan, Mary Perkins


Writer, editor, religious educator; b. Boston, Massachusetts, April 10, 1912; d. Goffstown, New Hampshire, Oct. 13, 1993. Her parents were Charles and Elizabeth (Ward) Perkins. In 1942 she wed John Julian Ryan and was the mother of five sons.

Shortly after earning a B.A. at Manhattanville College in 1933, Ryan joined the newly opened American branch of the publisher Sheed and Ward. Through her editorial work Ryan established herself as a leader in the liturgical movement, and was one of the speakers at the first Liturgical Week in Chicago in 1940. In 1954 the Ryan family moved to South Bend, Indiana, where Ryan took a position in the Liturgical Institute founded at Notre Dame by Father Michael Mathis, CSC. It was also at Notre Dame that she met the Austrian Jesuit Johannes Hofinger, SJ, and helped him edit his classic The Art of Teaching Christian Doctrine (1957).

A total of 27 works carry her name as author, editor, or translator. Her first work, At Ease in the Catholic Church (1937) was written with the encouragement of Leonard Feeney, SJ. She translated works by Louis Bouyer and Jean Daniélou. Her best known book, Are Parochial Schools the Answer? (1964), focused on adult catechesis. Ryan edited The Living Light, an official publication of the United States Catholic Conference, from its inception in 1964 until 1972. Between 1973 and 1988, she edited Professional Approaches for Christian Educators (PACE) and worked as a freelance writer.

In her last years, Ryan suffered from the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease and arthritis.

Bibliography: p. o'hare, "Mary Perkins Ryan (19121993): Mulier Fortis," The Living Light (spring 1994) 38. k. hughes, How Firm a Foundation: Voices of the Early Liturgical Movement (Collegeville 1990). m. c. bryce, "Mary Perkins Ryan," The Living Light 12 (summer 1975) 276281.

[b. l. marthaler]

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