Vincent James Ryan

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Vincent James Ryan (July 1, 1884 – November 10, 1951) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who served in North Dakota as Bishop of Bismarck, the state capital, for 11 years, from 1940 until his death.


The fourth of five children, Ryan was born in the Wisconsin village of Arlington, to Thomas Ryan and his wife Ann Welch.[1] He was raised on the family farm, he attended high school at the nearby city of Lodi for two years and, in 1902, entered St. Francis Seminary in the state's largest city, Milwaukee.[2] From 1906 to 1912, he studied at Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity in neighboring Minnesota's second largest city, St. Paul.[1] Seeking a career as a missionary, he was accepted by North Dakota's Bishop John Shanley into the Diocese of Fargo[2] and ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop John Ireland on June 7, 1912.[3]

Following his arrival in North Dakota a month later, Ryan served, until 1936, as chancellor of the diocese and private secretary to Bishop James O'Reilly who, upon Shanley's death in 1909, succeeded him.[1] In addition to these duties, he erected St. Anthony's Church in Fargo, where he served as pastor from 1917 to 1936.[2] He also organized and served as the first director of the Catholic Welfare Bureau, which became one of the most important charities in the state.[2] He was vicar general of the diocese from 1939 to 1940, and raised to the rank of Domestic Prelate of His Holiness in 1939.[1] He was elected president of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference in 1941, and co-authored Manifesto of Rural Life.[2] He also held a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.[1]

On March 19, 1940, Ryan was appointed the second Bishop of Bismarck by Pope Pius XII.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following May 28 from Bishop Aloisius Joseph Muench, with Bishops Joseph Francis Busch and Thomas Anthony Welch serving as co-consecrators, at St. Mary's Cathedral in Fargo.[3] He was installed the next day by Archbishop John Murray.[3] During his 11-year-long tenure, Ryan constructed 69 church buildings for a total cost of over ten million dollars.[2] Among these buildings was the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, which was dedicated in August 1945.[2] He founded the diocesan newspaper, Dakota Catholic Action, in 1941[2] and opposed the 1948 "anti-garb" law, which prohibited nuns from wearing their religious habit while teaching in public schools in North Dakota.[2]

Vincent James Ryan was 67 when he died in Bismarck. His burial was at the city's St. Mary's Cemetery.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Curtis, Georgina Pell (1947). The American Catholic Who's Who. VII. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Vincent J. Ryan, D.D., L.L.D. 1940–1951". Roman Catholic Diocese of Bismarck. Archived from the original on 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
  3. ^ a b c d "Bishop Vincent James Ryan".[self-published source]
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Baptist Vincent de Paul Wehrle
Bishop of Bismarck
Succeeded by
Lambert Anthony Hoch