July 30, 2010

M. Desmond Ryan was former longtime executive director of Indiana Catholic Conference, served in public policy advocacy

M. Desmond RyanM. Desmond Ryan, former executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference for 24 years, died on July 22 in Sarasota, Fla. He was 77.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. on July 31 at the Saint Joseph’s College Chapel in Rensselaer, Ind. Calling is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on July 31 at the chapel. Burial will follow the service at the Mount Calvary Cemetery in Rensselaer.

Ryan led the conference, which serves as the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Indiana regarding state and national matters, from 1980 until his retirement in 2004.

In that capacity, he worked with Indiana’s five bishops and diocesan Catholic Conference directors to present the Church’s concerns to state and national legislators.

Martin Ryan was born on Jan. 26, 1933, in Lake Forest, Ill.

After graduating from Saint Joseph’s College, he earned a doctoral degree in sociology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

From 1953-55, he served in the U.S. Army.

On Dec. 11, 1954, he was married to Leone Marie Devitt in Chicago. She preceded him in death on Oct. 25, 2009.

Ryan worked as a professor of sociology at Saint Joseph’s College until 1975, when he was named director of research for the Indiana Catholic Conference.

In 1976, he was appointed assistant director of the conference then four years later became the executive director.

Ryan was recognized by Saint Joseph’s College with an honorary doctorate and later as Alumnus of the Year.

He also was honored by the State of Indiana as a Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest distinguished service award presented by the governor.

Surviving are four children, Maureen Kosanovich of Rensselaer; Eileen McGrath of Sarasota, Fla.; Mary Skorepa of Sanford, Fla.; and Desmond Ryan of Brookfield, Ill.; as well as 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Thomas J. Ryan Foundation in memory of his late son in care of the Jasper Foundation or The College Fund at Saint Joseph’s College, U.S. Highway 231, P.O. Box 870, Rensselaer, IN 47978. †

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