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James Hugh Ryan

James Hugh Ryan
Archbishop of Omaha
Titular Bishop of Modra
ChurchCatholic Church
ArchdioceseArchdiocese of Omaha
InstalledAugust 3, 1935
Term endedNovember 23, 1947
PredecessorJoseph Francis Rummel
SuccessorGerald Thomas Bergan
Other post(s)Rector of the Catholic University of America
OrdinationJune 5, 1909
ConsecrationOctober 25, 1934
by Joseph Chartrand
Personal details
Born(1886-12-15)December 15, 1886
DiedNovember 23, 1947(1947-11-23) (aged 60)
EducationDuquesne University
Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West
Urban College of Propaganda
Roman Academy
Gerald Thomas Bergan

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 (1928–1935) and as bishop and later archbishop of the Archdiocese of Omaha (1935–1947).


Early life

James Ryan was born on December 15, 1886, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to John Marshall and Brigid (née Rogers) Ryan.[1] John Ryan worked as superintendent of motor power of the Lake Erie and Western Railroad. James Ryan attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West in Cincinnati, Ohio.[1] He then went to Rome, where he earned Bachelor of Sacred Theology (1906) and Doctor of Sacred Theology degrees (1909) from the Urban College of Propaganda and a Ph.D. from the Roman Academy (1908).[1]


Ryan was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on June 5, 1909.[2] Following his return to Indiana, he was appointed chaplain of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana and professor of psychology at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, from 1911 to 1921.[1]

Ryan 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]

Ryan 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] Ryan 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]

Titular Bishop of Modra

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 October 25, 1933, from Bishop Joseph Chartrand, with Bishops Thomas Edmund Molloy and Joseph Ritter serving as co-consecrators, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.[2]

Bishop and Archbishop of Omaha

Following the appointment of Bishop Joseph Rummel to Archbishop of New Orleans in March 1935, Ryan was named the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Omaha 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][7] He died two years later from a heart attack at age 60.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Curtis, Georgina Pell (1947). The American Catholic Who's Who. Vol. VII. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Archbishop James Hugh Ryan".[self-published source]
  3. ^ a b c "Send-off". TIME Magazine. 1935-11-11. Archived from the original on December 22, 2011.
  4. ^ "Ryan of Modra". TIME Magazine. 1933-11-06. Archived from the original on November 22, 2010.
  5. ^ "Religion and Democracy". TIME Magazine. 1939-01-16. Archived from the original on December 14, 2008.
  6. ^ "Amateur Diplomats". TIME Magazine. 1939-02-13. Archived from the original on March 7, 2008.
  7. ^ "Msgr. Ryan Named Omaha Archbishop". The New York Times. August 10, 1945. p. 32.
  8. ^ "Archbishop Ryan of Omaha, 60, Dies". The New York Times. 1947-11-24.
Academic offices Preceded byThomas Joseph Shahan Rector of CUA 1928–1935 Succeeded byJoseph M. Corrigan Catholic Church titles Preceded byJoseph Francis Rummel Archbishop of Omaha 1935–1947 Succeeded byGerald Thomas Bergan
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James Hugh Ryan
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