Fr. Benvenute Ryan, OFM
Fr. Benvenute Ryan, OFM, was born in Southington, Conn., on Nov. 5, 1867. An alumnus of St. Bonaventure’s College in Allegany, N.Y., he was received into the novitiate of the Immaculate Conception Custody there on April 27, 1890.
After professing temporary vows in 1891 he was sent to Rome for theological studies at the Order’s newly-opened Pontifical Anthonian University. In 1894, he made his profession of solemn vows and was ordained a priest in 1895 while in Rome. After ordination, he continued graduate studies there, receiving the degree “Lector Generalis.”
Upon the completion of his studies, Fr. Benvenute was assigned the role of master of clerics and professor of philosophy at St. Joseph Friary in Winsted, Conn, and then at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington. In 1900, he began his long career as a professor of moral theology at St. Bonaventure’s Seminary in Allegany. The following year, the friar community at St. Bonaventure became part of the new Holy Name Province.
While at St. Bonaventure, Fr. Benvenute served several terms on the Provincial Council, but from 1925 to 1931, his teaching career was interrupted to serve as Provincial Minister. His administration continued the expansion begun under Fr. Mathias, taking on the care of parishes in Long Beach Island, NJ, and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., as well as starting a retreat house in Brookline, Mass. The major project of his administration, however, was the construction of the new Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. Upon the completion of his two terms as Provincial Minister, Fr. Benvenute was appointed guardian there, resuming the work he loved, teaching theology.
Fr. Benvenute devoted himself for 45 years 25 at St. Bonaventure’s and 20 at Holy Name College to one subject: moral theology. During the final two years of his life, he was unable to teach because of advanced age. A contemporary described him as “the model of promptness, exactness, orderliness,” and he was revered for his gentleness and insight. Shortly before his death, an old classmate from St. Bonaventure visited him, remarking that their college years seemed “a century ago.” Fr. Benvenute, in his laconic manner, simply replied: “The century went by very quickly.”
He died in Washington, D.C., on July 2, 1953. He was 85 years old, a professed friar for 62 years and a dedicated priest for nearly 58 years.