James Hugh Ryan

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James Hugh Ryan
Archbishop of Omaha
In office1935-1947
OrdinationJune 5, 1909
ConsecrationOctober 25, 1934
by Bishop Joseph Chartrand
Personal details
Born(1886-12-15)December 15, 1886
Indianapolis, Indiana
DiedNovember 23, 1947(1947-11-23) (aged 60)
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsJohn Marshall and Brigid (née Rogers) Ryan
OccupationRector of CUA
EducationDuquesne University
Alma materMount St. Mary's Seminary of the West

James Hugh Ryan (December 15, 1886 – November 23, 1947) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Rector of the Catholic University of America (1928–35) and Archbishop of Omaha (1935–47).


James Ryan was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, to John Marshall and Brigid (née Rogers) Ryan.[1] His father worked as superintendent of motor power of the Lake Erie and Western Railroad. He attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West in Cincinnati, Ohio.[1] He then went to further his studies in Rome, where he earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (1906) and Doctor of Sacred Theology (1909) from the Urban College of Propaganda and a Ph.D. from the Roman Academy (1908).[1] He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on June 5, 1909.[2] Following his return to Indiana, he was chaplain of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana and professor of psychology at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College from 1911 to 1921.[1]

He then began his career at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he served as instructor in philosophy (1922–26) and associate professor of philosophy (1926–28). In July 1928 he was named the fifth rector of the university.[1] During his administration, he reorganized and rebuilt the university, also instituting nursing courses and a School of Social Work and expanding the graduate school to admit 800 students.[3] He became a well-known and powerful figure in Washington.[3] He was once received by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his send-off party was attended by the likes of Ambassador Hans Luther, Assistant Attorney General Joseph B. Keenan, Justice Pierce Butler, Postmaster General James Farley, Secretary Henry A. Wallace, and Canon Anson Phelps Stokes.[3] He served as the first Executive Secretary of the National Catholic Welfare Council (1920–28), and was raised to the rank of Domestic Prelate in 1927 and of protonotary apostolic in 1929.[1]

On August 15, 1933, Ryan was appointed Titular Bishop of Modra by Pope Pius XI, in acknowledgment of his accomplishments as rector.[2][4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following October 25 from Bishop Joseph Chartrand, with Bishops Thomas Edmund Molloy and Joseph Ritter serving as co-consecrators, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.[2] Following the promotion of Bishop Joseph Rummel to Archbishop of New Orleans in March 1935, Ryan was named the fifth Bishop of Omaha, Nebraska, on August 3, 1935.[2] In 1939 he was sent to South America to "develop cultural relationships" on behalf of the American Catholic Church and the U.S. Department of State.[5] Following his return, he declared, "The foundation has been laid for a 'Catholic front' to protect democracy in this hemisphere."[6]

When the Diocese of Omaha was elevated to the rank of an archdiocese, Ryan became its first Archbishop on August 4, 1945.[2] He died two years later from a heart attack at age 60.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Curtis, Georgina Pell (1947). The American Catholic Who's Who. VII. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Archbishop James Hugh Ryan". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.[self-published source]
  3. ^ a b c "Send-off". TIME Magazine. 1935-11-11.
  4. ^ "Ryan of Modra". TIME Magazine. 1933-11-06.
  5. ^ "Religion and Democracy". TIME Magazine. 1939-01-16.
  6. ^ "Amateur Diplomats". TIME Magazine. 1939-02-13.
  7. ^ "ARCHBISHOP OF RYAN OF OMAHA, 60, DIES". The New York Times. 1947-11-24.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Joseph Shahan
Logo of The Catholic University of America 2c.svg
Rector of CUA

Succeeded by
Joseph M. Corrigan
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop Joseph Francis Rummel
Archbishop of Omaha
Succeeded by
Archbishop Gerald Thomas Bergan