Sister Elizabeth Ann Ryan, 91, of Dubuque, departed this life July 16, 2009, in the 71st year of her religious life.
Gentle and unassuming in manner Sr. Elizabeth was a woman of many talents and interests. Born April 7, 1918 in Le Mars, and christened with the name Esther. She was the oldest of the four children of James and Elizabeth Ahlers Ryan. She attended St. Joseph School in Le Mars for all 12 grades, and following graduation she stayed home for a year. Esther entered Mount St. Francis Sept. 8, 1937, and was received the next year with the name Sr. Elizabeth Ann. (Her cousin and lifelong friend Sr. Ruth Agnes Ahlers was a class ahead of her.)
Having completed Novitiate Sr. Elizabeth taught high school social studies and religion in Stacyville and Dyersville and at Immaculate Conception Academy in Dubuque. Then came the "surprise assignment" to study at the University of Notre Dame, beginning work towards her MBA in accounting. She spent five years teaching accounting at Briar Cliff College in Sioux City and then returned to Dubuque to teach at Wahlert High School and work in the congregation's business office Saturdays and during the summer months.
In 1966 Sr. Elizabeth was appointed treasurer for the congregation, a position she held for 14 years. They were momentous years and some of the happenings during her tenure: development of accounting systems for the congregation, computerization of many functions, entering the social security program, and the great increase in the number of sisters driving cars.
Following her years of service in the business office Sr. Elizabeth moved on to retreat ministry at Colette Renewal Center, Initially she worked in the office and helped with the other necessary tasks; later she was co-director and then director of the Center. It closed with the opening of Shalom Retreat Center and she became office assistant at Shalom, a position she filled until her retirement to Mount St. Francis in 1994.
Included among Sister's retirement activities were Schola, the promotion of justice and peace issues, and much reading and study. She moved to Holy Family Hall in 2004.
Among the few photos in Sister's personal folder is one taken with Fr. Mike Crosby, OFM, known for his social justice work. And there is an extensive list of her favorite things, beginning with "being with people". In her quiet way Sr. Elizabeth's life gave witness to the values of the Gospel. Now the Lord of the Gospel has led her home.
Sister is survived by her sister, Agnes (Herbert) of Waterloo; her sister-in-law, Patricia Ryan of Le Mars; nieces, nephews and her Franciscan sisters with whom she shared 70 years of her life.
Sister was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, James; and her sister, Eleanor.
Mass of Christian Burial was at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at The Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Family, Mount St. Francis, in Dubuque, with the Rev. Ronald Friedell presiding. A wake service was held at 7 p.m. Friday, July 17.