Death of Most Reverend Laurence Ryan, Retired Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin (1931-2003)

13 Oct 2003


13 October 2003



(1931 – 2003)

The death has taken place of the former Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Bishop
Laurence Ryan. He was 72 years of age.

Upon hearing of his death, the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Most Rev Jim Moriarty
said: “Throughout the diocese people and priests will be saddened to hear of Bishop
Larry’s death. He was a kind and caring man whose dedication and commitment to his priestly
life set an example for many to follow. We will miss him greatly.”

Bishop Ryan is survived by his sister Margaret Morrissey, his brothers Pat, Michael, nieces,
nephews and many friends.

Bishop Ryan was a native of the parish of St. Mullins, Co. Carlow, where among his neighbours
and friends he was always very much at home.

He was born on 13 May 1931 and ordained to the priesthood in June 1956. He served as President
of St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, from 1974 to 1980 having been on the teaching staff there
since 1958. An tAth Caoimhín O’Neill, current President of Carlow College remembers Bishop
Ryan’s time in the College: “As a colleague on the staff we will remember him as a pleasant
companion and a most efficient and courteous administrator. He worked very hard. He managed
to combine his considerable teaching and administrative workload in the college with a hectic
involvement in Church related organisations at national and regional level. As a theologian
Laurence Ryan had a keen analytic mind, was progressive in his thinking and was a much respected
voice in The Irish Church. Past students of Carlow College will remember Bishop Ryan as a good
lecturer who knew them well and never forgot a name even after 40 years!”

Laurence Ryan was parish Priest of Naas, Co. Kildare, from 1980 to 1985. While Parish Priest
of Naas he was ordained (September 1984) as Coadjutor Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. In December
1987 he succeeded the late Bishop Patrick Lennon as Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. Bishop Ryan
resigned in August 2002.

His time as Bishop was marked by huge changes in the life of the Irish Church and his commitment
to promoting the role of lay people through the establishment of Parish Pastoral Councils and a
variety of lay ministries was testament to his appreciation of the vision and mission of the
second Vatican Council. In June 1997 Bishop Ryan led the people of Carlow and the wider Diocese
in the Rededication Ceremony of the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow. “The renewal of our
he said “is symbolic of the changes taking place under the guidance of the Holy
Spirit in the wider Church community. It can be a catalyst for further renewal throughout our

Outside of the Diocese Bishop Ryan was secretary to the Irish Theological Society from 1966 –’76.
He was appointed the first President of the National Conference of Priests of Ireland in 1976,
was Chairman of the National Jubilee 2000 Committee and he also served as President of the Irish
Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace. Bishop Ryan was a founder member and enthusiastic
promoter of CMAC (now ACCORD) the Catholic Marriage Advice and Counselling service in the Diocese
of Kildare and Leighlin.

Funeral arrangements for Bishop Ryan will be announced in due course.

13 October 2003

Further information:
Fr Micheal Murphy (086) 824 4629
Ms Brenda Drumm (087) 233 7797


A photograph of Bishop Ryan is availabe online – click here

Issued by the Catholic Communications Office on behalf of the
Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin