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Obituaries

Archbishop Joseph Ryan; Led Military Vicarate

October 13, 2000

Archbishop Joseph T. Ryan, 86, who was the first archbishop of the more than 2 million Roman Catholics connected with the U.S. military. Born in Albany, Ryan was ordained a priest in 1939 and help parish and teaching posts through much of the 1940s and '50s. In 1960, he was named national secretary of the Catholic Near East Welfare Assn. He went on to become president of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, a Vatican relief agency that aided Arab refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Gaza Strip. Ryan was the only American to accompany Pope Paul VI on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1965. A year later, he became the first archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska, a post he held for a decade. A U.S. Navy chaplain with the Marine Corps in the South Pacific during World War II, Ryan was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the Military Vicarate in 1985. In choosing Ryan, the pope elevated the vicarate, which had been run by the New York archdiocese, into an archdiocese serving Catholics connected with U.S. bases around the world, foreign missions and veterans hospitals. Ryan returned to Albany in 1991 after retiring. He died there on Monday.

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