Priest dies on 93rd birthday

PUBLISHED: 06:13 06 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:05 24 May 2010

Canon Ryan (left) pictured with The Right Reverend Mervyn Alexander.

Canon Ryan (left) pictured with The Right Reverend Mervyn Alexander.

A PRIEST who served at the same church on three separate occasions over a period of almost 70 years has died. Canon William Ryan, the former parish priest at Corpus Christi Church in Weston, died peacefully at a nursing home in Bristol on March 24 - his 9

A PRIEST who served at the same church on three separate occasions over a period of almost 70 years has died.Canon William Ryan, the former parish priest at Corpus Christi Church in Weston, died peacefully at a nursing home in Bristol on March 24 - his 93rd birthday.Tributes have been paid to a priest who was an example of 'dedication and commitment to God' and a happy man with an infectious laugh.Father Ryan first arrived at the church in Ellenborough Park South in 1937 from his native Ireland as an assistant priest. He stayed there until 1944.After further postings at churches around Somerset and Bristol, he returned to Corpus Christi in 1963 as parish priest. He served there until his retirement in 1982.For the first 11 years of his retirement, he lived at St Bonaventure's parish in Bristol but returned to Corpus Christi for a third time in 1993 when his friend Father Martin Fitzpatrick became parish priest.Canon Ryan was a keen golfer and said he only gave up the game in his 80s when he ran out of partners. Even in his 90s, he could be seen striding along Weston seafront on most days with one hand in his pocket as he recited the rosary.Canon Ryan remained at the church until 2004 until declining health meant he moved to St Angela's Nursing Home in Clifton, Bristol, where he was cared for by nuns.The Right Reverend Mervyn Alexander said he would be remembered with great affection as being everything a priest should be.Current Corpus Christi parish priest Monsignor Gabriel Leydon said: "Even though Canon Ryan had reached a more than mature age, his death came as a shock. Like 'Old Man River', he just kept on flowing."People in Weston will miss him and he will be remembered for his infectious life and happy disposition."He was an example of dedication and commitment to God. He loved Weston and wished to be buried here."Canon Ryan's requiem mass took place at Corpus Christi Church at 11.30am on Tuesday.

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