Tennessee diocese seeks to exhume remains of pastor on path to sainthood

Catholic News Agency | 11/28/2018 | Staff
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Knoxville, Tenn., Nov 28, 2018 / 03:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Knoxville is seeking to unearth the remains of a Tennessee pastor whose canonization cause is currently open.

Servant of God Father Patrick Ryan was a diocesan priest who cared for the sick in Chattanooga, Tennessee, passing away at 33 years old from yellow fever.

Diocese - Permission - Priest - Remains - Mt

The diocese is seeking permission to transfer the priest’s remains from Mt. Olivet Cemetery to the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.

A petition was filed earlier this month to ask a judge for permission to exhume the remains.

Nell - Southerland - Assistant - Attorney - Hamilton

Nell Southerland, assistant attorney for Hamilton County, said the request will likely go unopposed but is unsure if Tennessee law gives judges the power to allow for exhumation without the permission of a known relative, the Times Free Press reported.

The diocese must confirm that Ryan was a real person and not a “pious legend.” However, there is strong evidence pointing to the priest’s existence, like letters between clergymen and newspaper clippings.

Ryan - Family - New - York - County

In the 1800s, the Ryan family immigrated to New York from County Tipperary, Ireland, where the surname Ryan is popular. According to the Times Free Press, this made it difficult to determine which Patrick Ryan was the priest, noting there are 25 identical names recorded.

Ryan studied the priesthood at St. Vincent’s College in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In 1869, he was ordained in Nashville. Later, he was sent to Chattanooga, where he opened the town’s oldest private school.

Priest - Flock - Request - Olivet - Cemetery

Having passed away in 1878, the priest was originally buried among his flock per his request. In 1886, he was transferred to Olivet Cemetery during a horse and buggy procession.

Fr. David Carter, Knoxville canon lawyer and pastor of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, said Ryan had offered his life to heroically serve people suffering from the yellow fever epidemic...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Catholic News Agency
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