Fr Barry Ryan RIP

Born:  Barry Thomas Ryan on September 8, 1938 in Warrnambool, Victoria

Ordained:  Diocesan Priest on July 21, 1965 at St Joseph’s Church Warrnambool

Entered Eternal Life:  June 22, 2024 at Nazareth House Ballarat

Funeral Mass:  Monday, July 1, 2024 at St Patrick’s Cathedral Ballarat at 10.30am

Rite of Committal:  Ballarat New Cemetery

Obituary: There was standing room only on Monday, July 1 at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Ballarat for the funeral of Fr Barry Ryan. Metastatic prostate cancer, with which he was first diagnosed in the week of his 70th birthday, had accelerated in his final months. The funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr Kevin Arundell and concelebrated by many priests (including three bishops). Two eulogies were offered, one by Barry’s niece, Clare Szollosi and the other by Sr Veronica Lawson RSM, a long-time colleague of Barry’s in the field of faith education.

Barry was born in Warrnambool, the only son of Tom and Eva Ryan. Three sisters were to follow – Rosemary, Kathleen and Angela. His early years on a farm just outside Warrnambool shaped life-long interests which included a passionate interest in the environment. His secondary education was at Christian Brothers College, Warrnambool. After studies at Corpus Christi College, Werribee and Glen Waverley, he was ordained priest at Warrnambool on July 21, 1965.

In his homily, Fr Kevin spoke warmly of Barry’s skills in ministry, his counselling in healing hurts, his commitment to Ballarat priests and his ability to make friendships for life. Barry worked in eight different parishes of the diocese over his years; he was on many diocesan committees; he was Vicar General from 2004 to 2013 and Director of Religious Education for decades, including a long stint as Head of Religious Education at Aquinas Campus, one of the predecessor campuses of Australian Catholic University.

Sr Veronica declared, “the tender mercy of our God gave us, in the person of Barry Ryan, a truly faithful and faith-filled priest, a faithful and devoted family member, a faithful and faith-filled proclaimer of the gospel, a mentor, counsellor, storyteller, consciousness-raiser, and above all a faithful friend who showed us what it means to be human.”

Barry was a life-long learner. “After his first appointment to Ballarat East parish, he attended to his own on-going education, working full time in the parish while enrolling in an Arts degree at Melbourne University where he completed studies in Psychology, Philosophy, Comparative Religions and Biblical Studies. His talent as a faith educator was affirmed by his appointment in 1971 as the Diocesan Director of Religious Education.”  Veronica made mention of his life-long commitment to the environment and the care of the planet after reading Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” during his seminary tears. Barry convinced many teachers and catechists throughout the diocese of the need to care for our common home long before Pope Francis and Laudato Si.

Post-graduate studies at Fordham University in New York were to follow. To cover boarding costs with the Marist Brothers, he taught in their high school in the Bronx where he was assigned a group of students for whom learning was anything but a high priority. After a very short time, Barry had those tough young adults eating out of his hand and learning as no-one had ever thought possible.

Barry’s influence extended far beyond Ballarat. His contribution to parish life paralleled his academic ministry. He proclaimed the gospel powerfully, not least through the witness of his life.

Veronica concluded her words by giving thanks for fifty-eight years of gospel partnership with one of the planet’s wisest and most inspirational lovers of life. Barry died at Nazareth House in Ballarat, a few short weeks after his admission, on June 22, 2024.

Obituary prepared for the Spring edition of The Swag – Fr Peter Matheson


January 1966        Ballarat East Assistant Priest
January 1968        Mildura Assistant Priest
May 1968               Maryborough Assistant Priest
September 1969   Ballarat Cathedral Assistant Priest, Chaplain to St Patrick’s College Ballarat
1971 – 1983          Director of the Diocesan Religious Education Centre
February 1982       Redan Administrator
July 1982                Diocesan Representative for Justice and Peace
1983                        Diocesan Director of Radio & Television
1985 – 1997          Head of the Religious Education Department, Aquinas College Ballarat
July 1985                Redan Parish Priest
1998 – 2008          Member of the Personnel Advisory Board
1999 – 2004          Terang & Mortlake Parish Priest
January 2002         Diocesan Director of Priestly Life & Ministry
2003 – 2013           Member of the College of Consultors
2004 – 2013           Diocesan Vicar General
2009 – 2013           Member of the Bishop’s Advisory Council
January 2012         Ballarat North Parish Priest
January 2013         Gordon Supervising Priest
2020                         Ballarat East Visiting Priest

The Funeral Mass can be watched via livestream: 

The Funeral Mass booklet can be accessed here.

The homily from the Mass can be read here.