Throwback Thursday: Sister Joseph Eleanor Ryan, a cause and a Positio
On May 21, 2016, the Sisters of Providence ran a blog which was a poem called, “Reflection on Saint Mary-of-the-Woods,” and was written by Sister Joseph Eleanor Ryan.
After reading the poem, Providence Associate Bill Hughes left a response asking how he could learn more about Sister Joseph Eleanor.
“Sister captured my experience of the sacredness and grace of the place,” Bill said.
Well Bill, here is some more information on Sister Joseph Eleanor.
Born in Joliet, Illinois, on March 2, 1909, the former Agnes Ryan was the daughter of Thomas J. Ryan and Eleanor Coyne Ryan.
Sister Joseph Eleanor entered the Congregation in February 1933. She ministered as a teacher in schools in Illinois, Indiana and Maryland. She taught at Providence Juniorate, later known as Providence Aspirancy.
From 1978 to 1985, Sister Joseph Eleanor divided her time between Rome and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, as she researched material for the cause for sainthood of Mother Theodore.
Her completed document, the Positio of Mother Theodore Guerin, was written in English, French, Italian and Latin, and detailed the life and virtues of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. It was 900 pages in length!
A Positio is a document or collection of documents used in the process by which a person is declared Venerable, the second of the four steps on the path to sainthood. Mother Theodore was granted the title of “Venerable” by Pope John Paul II on July 22, 1992.
In 1989, Sister Joseph Eleanor was named the vice postulator for the cause of Mother Theodore. During that year, Sister Joseph Eleanor also began writing “Call to Courage: A story of Mother Theodore Guerin.” The book was based on her research for the Positio.
Sister Joseph Eleanor was also known as a poet, linguist, scholar who wrote community history and plays.
The Sisters of Providence Archives department has many volumes of Sister Joseph Eleanor’s poetry. The following poem, which was untitled and had no date, can give one the feel of how Sister Joseph Eleanor would write:
“One thing you asked your Lord
In the Years so swiftly fled,
That you might share His dwelling,
Might break His holy Bread
With others of His choosing;
With them might help to spread
The tidings of His Kingdom;
Might follow where He led;
Now we, with you, dear Sister,
Give humble thanks today
For all the untold blessings
He sowed along your way!”
Sister Joseph Eleanor died on May 7, 1991.