April 1, 2022

Father Francis Bryan served for more than 30 years at Marian University

By Sean Gallagher

Father Francis BryanFather Francis Bryan, a retired archdiocesan priest, died on March 23 at Franciscan St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis. He was 85.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on March 31 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was the principal celebrant. Father Robert Robeson, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove and administrator of Good Shepherd Parish in Indianapolis, was the homilist.

Burial followed in the priests’ circle at Calvary Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Throughout much of his priestly life and ministry, Father Bryan served as a professor and chaplain at Marian University in Indianapolis.

Shortly after his ordination in 1962, Father Bryan was assigned as assistant pastor of the former St. James the Greater Parish in Indianapolis. The parish was the faith home of now-retired Father James Bonke, who was an archdiocesan seminarian at the time Father Bryan was assigned associate pastor.

Father Bonke described how Father Bryan’s example gave him a good model of priestly ministry.

“He taught me to learn as best I could, but also to be human and develop friendships and relationships with people in the parish,” Father Bonke said. “He respected everyone. He was quite intelligent, but he never made you feel less because of that.”

Andrew Hohman, an assistant professor of theology and philosophy at Marian, served alongside Father Bryan there for two decades.

He saw the same quality in the priest that Father Bonke observed at St. James.

“His office was right outside of the chapel,” said Hohman. “Many students would drop in and ask questions. Many students came to see him. He was a friend of the staff, the hourly workers and troubled students.”

At the same time, Hohman said, Father Bryan took seriously his academic duties at Marian.

“He was a very popular teacher, very successful,” Hohman said. “He was very concerned that students would understand the faith, but also that they would be willing to explore it and ask questions. He was not afraid of questions.”

It was Father Bryan’s openness to questions about the faith and his desire to explore it more deeply that led to him being known for his preaching.

“He gave wonderful, well-prepared homilies,” said Father Bonke. “They were homilies that you wanted to listen to and pay attention to because they were so meaningful.”

Francis Edward Bryan was born on Oct. 9, 1936, to the late Frank and Agnes (Christensen) Bryan in Indianapolis, where he grew up as a member of the former Assumption Parish.

After graduating from his parish’s grade school, Father Bryan became an archdiocesan seminarian and received priestly formation at the former Saint Meinrad High School and College, both in St. Meinrad.

His last four years of priestly formation took place at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.

Archbishop Paul C. Schulte ordained Father Bryan a priest on May 6, 1962, at the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in St. Meinrad.

His first pastoral assignment was as assistant pastor of the former St. James the Greater Parish. He was also an instructor from 1962-63 at the former Archbishop Chartrand High School in Indianapolis.

Starting in 1963, Father Bryan began ministry as a part-time instructor at the former Latin School of Indianapolis, which served as the archdiocese’s high school seminary at the time.

Beginning in 1968, Father Bryan became a full-time instructor at the Latin School, with residence at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis.

He served as an associate pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove from 1969-74. During that period, he also continued as an instructor at the Latin School from 1969-72. Then, he ministered as archdiocesan assistant superintendent of education in charge of religious education from 1972-74.

Beginning in 1974, Father Bryan began 34 years of ministry at Marian University in Indianapolis. He served as a full-time instructor and later assistant professor of theology from 1974-2006. He also ministered as Marian’s chaplain from 1977-2008, at which time he retired from active ministry.

Father Bryan is survived by his sisters Elizabeth Bryan of Madison and Therese Staton of Beech Grove. †

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