Home » Blog » Throwback Thursday: Sister Joseph Eleanor Ryan, a cause and a Positio

Throwback Thursday: Sister Joseph Eleanor Ryan, a cause and a Positio

Here we have a photo from 1987 of Sister Joseph Eleanor (right) with then general superior Sister Nancy Nolan. Both are holding a copy of the Positio of Mother Theodore Guerin, which had recently been received from Rome.

Here we have a photo from 1987 of Sister Joseph Eleanor (right) with then general superior Sister Nancy Nolan. Both are holding a copy of the Positio of Mother Theodore Guerin, which had recently been received from Rome.

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.

#‎throwbackthursday ‪#‎tbt

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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7 Comments

  1. Florence Norton on June 23, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Dear Jason,Thank your for your article on Sr.Joseph Eleanor. She was in chargw of the Juniorate when I was in High School. I always admired her. She was an excellent teacher,in fact,she taught us more than French. I was so pleased to read your beautiful tribute to such a good,talented woman.Thank you.S.Florence Norton

    • Jason Moon on June 23, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Thank you, Sister Florence!

  2. Joanne Murphy on June 23, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Thank you, Jason. My three years in the Juniorate were all with Sister. I can’t explain it–though I’m sure there’s a reason–but hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of her. There was an unmistakable aura about Sister. Her demeanor was that of a shy person, but for me she was bigger than life itself–a holy woman, a brilliant woman, a loving-caring woman. We communicated for many years including those when she was working on the Positio. I never had a doubt but that her efforts on behalf of the Cause would bring about the result of the canonization of our beloved Saint Mother Theodore.

    • Jason Moon on June 24, 2016 at 7:29 am

      Thank you. I appreciate that.

  3. John Hamilton on June 24, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Sister Joseph Eleanor was my High School English teacher at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox! What a Saint and wonderful teacher, so gentle yet firm to teach us about life and spirituality! God Bless you for your service and vision! John Hamilton

  4. Kay Brentlinger on August 25, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    I don’t know how I missed this before. It is wonderful to see such a great article on S. Joseph Eleanor. I was blessed to have had her and S. Rosemary Mackey watching over me in my first year of teaching at Providence, New Lennox. They provided so much help and such a great example for me. I will never forget them.

  5. joe masilak on June 27, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    for more family information and life you may contact me at (815) 725-6874. I am her nephew. DO NOT E-MAIL I HAVE NO PERSONAL E_MAIL.

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