Dominican Sister Nora Ryan joined three siblings in religious vocations

Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Nora Ryan was an example of how religious vocations can flourish in a devout Catholic family.

Growing up in Omaha, she was the sixth of 14 children born to George and Nora (Cox) Ryan. Along with two sisters and one brother, she entered religious life, a calling rooted in their  parents’ strong faith and in regular family prayer, they had said.

The last of her family serving in religious orders, Sister Nora died Dec. 22 in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, at age 87.  A funeral Mass was offered Dec. 29 at the Dominican Sisters motherhouse in Sinsinawa, followed by burial in the motherhouse cemetery.

The three sisters grew up under the influence of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, who taught them at St. Cecilia School in Omaha and the former Cathedral High School, said Eileen Dushek-Manthe, a spokeswoman for the order.

The Ryan sisters knew their Dominican teachers well “and experienced the charism of the congregation,” Dushek-Manthe said.

Sister Nora made her first profession in 1953 and her perpetual profession in 1956.

She taught for 22 years, including at St. Michael School in South Sioux City from 1963 to 1966. 

She also served in Illinois, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia as a teacher, principal, pastoral associate, hospital chaplain and volunteer tutor. She worked as a pastoral minister with the HIV/AIDS ministry for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and as a volunteer tutor, helping refugee children, at International Community School in Atlanta.

Sister Nora, who was named Patricia by her parents, was preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Sister Marie Collette Ryan and Sister Sabina Ryan, also of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa; other sisters, Anne Ryan, Susan Rochford, Nora Moore and Virginia Garner; brothers, Father James Ryan, SJ, Francis “Frank” Ryan and Thomas Ryan. She is survived by sisters, Imelda McMillin and Mary Rehan; brothers, George Ryan and John Ryan; nieces and nephews; and her Dominican Sisters.


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