Fr Eugene Ryan was born in Dublin on 25 July 1927. He attended O’Connell’s School and Belvedere College and worked for a while in the Civil Service before coming to Dalgan in 1947.
Eugene was ordained on 21 December 1953 and assigned to Korea where the war was coming to an end. He began his ministry in Korea with a few years on Cheju island before becoming pastor of Noan parish in Kwangju diocese in 1959. Within a year he had opened a Middle School for the war children of that large rural area.
His long career in finance began with an appointment as bursar to the diocese. After studies in the US in 1972, he returned to Seoul but within a year he was appointed as Regional Bursar in the US. Typically he managed to initiate a housing project for the elderly in Omaha before leaving to become Bursar General of the Society in 1983. This was a role in which he was to serve for eighteen years.
Eugene was never one to be tied to a desk and everywhere he served he always had an ‘after hours’ project to engage in for the benefit of others. The skills he developed in sourcing almost anything on the black-market in Korea’s post-war economy certainly stayed with him.
Later he could relate well to the issues of World Debt and became the Columban spokesperson at intenational forums and helped us all to get a grasp of the problems.
In Ireland, he was a valued member of many committees and devoted himself to the building of the Nursing Home in Dalgan which is really a monument to his determination and foresight.
Even when he finally retired from the Bursar role in 2001 he continued to share his expertise by helping the Church in Myanmar to set up its accounting systems.
Eugene contributed much to the cultural life of the Columbans promoting everything from herbaceous borders to Grisham’s crime novels and, bravely, even the ongoing saga of the British royal family.
In the last few years he battled with illness but kept rising again and would surely consider it a victory that he was found dead in his own chair on 24 December 2018.
We will greatly miss his genial and enthusiastic presence.
May he rest in peace.