Attleboro native Ryan Healy to be
ordained to the priesthood June 1

By Kenneth J. Souza

ATTLEBORO, Mass. — As he prepares for his ordination to the priesthood this weekend, Transitional Deacon Ryan Healy expressed his thanks and appreciation to all who “have assisted or prayed for me up to this point.”

“I am certainly nervous to take this next big step but I feel a great sense of peace and reassurance that I am fulfilling a calling and vocation from the Lord,” Healy recently told The Anchor. “The journey up to this point has truly been a work of God.”

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Healy will be ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., during an 11 a.m. Mass on Saturday, June 1 in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River.

“I am confident in the excellent training and formation that I have received from the faculty of St. John’s Seminary in order to take up the mission that will be entrusted to me by Bishop da Cunha to share in his ministry to teach, govern, and sanctify the holy people of God,” Healy said. “Although I am aware that one can never be perfectly prepared, I look forward to growing and learning in the many years to come.”

Ryan Joseph Healy, 27, is a native of Attleboro and St. John the Evangelist Parish, where he attended Sunday Masses with his parents, Richard and Christine, and his sisters Jennifer and Meghan.

After being ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 19, 2018, he spent the last year serving with and learning from pastor and diocesan vocations director Father Kevin Cook — first at Holy Family Parish in East Taunton, and more recently at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk.

“Both parishes have vibrant, faith-filled communities which I was very pleased to serve in,” Healy said. “I have particularly enjoyed preparing and delivering homilies at Mass — it has allowed me to articulate many of the things I have learned in the seminary. It has also been a tremendous joy to celebrate Baptism and to be God’s instrument as new sons and daughters are added to the Church.

“I have especially enjoyed learning from Father Cook. His guidance and priestly examples have inspired me deeply to enter into ministry with passion and devotion to the flock entrusted to my pastoral care.”

Healy first discerned a calling to the priesthood when he was 13 years old.

“A close friend, who came from a very devout family, invited me to attend a summer youth retreat with him called the Steubenville East Youth Conference, which for many summers was held on the grounds of La Salette Shrine in Attleboro,” Healy said. “It was here that the faith was presented to me in a new and engaging way, where I witnessed so many peers on fire with a love for Jesus Christ, and where I first heard the Lord’s call. At the end of each conference is a talk encouraging religious vocations, which instantly attracted me to the idea of becoming a priest. This desire has consistently remained with me throughout high school and college, and eventually compelled me to follow the Lord’s call to enter the seminary.”

Having attended public schools in Attleboro for his elementary and middle school years, Healy enrolled in Bishop Feehan High School thanks to the “financial sacrifices of my family.”

“At Feehan, I learned how to be a Christian disciple from my teachers in the theology classes, my active involvement in campus ministry, attending morning Mass before school, and participating in the Steubenville conferences each summer,” Healy said. “During my freshman year I also began working in the Religious Education Office of my home parish with Mrs. Meg Keenan, which was a transformative part of high school for me.”

Although he remained confident about eventually entering the seminary, Healy first enrolled at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

“There I encountered a culture like none other, where the students put God first in their lives, with the majority attending daily Mass, and living out radical discipleship,” he said. “I learned much from the witness of many friends and studied philosophy and theology, equipping me to confidently answer a call to the priesthood.”

After successfully applying to the Fall River Diocese, Healy continued his studies at Our Lady of Providence Seminary in Rhode Island, taking courses at Providence College, where he graduated in 2015. He completed his formation at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton.

Over the years, Healy has been blessed with the guidance and example of many priestly role models here in the diocese, including Msgr. Daniel Hoye, Father Richard Roy, Father Thomas Costa, Father Richard Wilson, and Father Riley Williams.

“During my first years of college and entrance into the seminary, I enjoyed the tremendous support of Father Wilson and Father Williams who were assigned at my home parish,” Healy said. “They were most encouraging of my choice to enter the seminary, involving me in many aspects of parish life. I looked forward to each weekend in college seminary, coming home on Sundays to serve in the parish with Father Wilson and Father Williams. The support of each of these priests has been integral to reaching this stage of my journey.”

There will be one other important priest present at his ordination — his uncle, Father Patrick Healy, O.M.I., who will be vesting him as he did for his diaconal ordination last year.

Ordained in 1947, Father Healy is a missionary priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He served as a missionary in Japan for several decades, as a U.S. Army chaplain during the Vietnam War, and later as a chaplain at West Point.

“He has been a huge role model of the priesthood to me in these past few years,” Healy said. “The day of my ordination will be his 98th birthday. I am so grateful that he will be there and that he can join me for this great day of celebration. The following day, when I will celebrate my first Mass, is actually the 72nd anniversary of his priestly ordination! Although he has experienced some health setbacks recently, he continues to be fervent in carrying out his ministry as a priest.”

Healy will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish of St. John the Evangelist Church in Attleboro on Sunday, June 2 at 1 p.m.

“This has been my home parish for my whole life, where I was baptized,” he said. “The community of St. John’s has been a source of constant support and encouragement over these years of seminary studies. I am looking forward to celebrating that day with many members of the parish. Already, there have been so many who have come forward to help with the preparations.”

Although he hasn’t been given his first assignment yet, Healy looks forward to meeting with Bishop da Cunha and beginning his priestly ministry.

“Certainly I would be happy to carry out priestly ministry anywhere, but it would be a great joy for me to serve in a parish where there is a local Catholic school — to get to know the families and be able to assist in passing on the faith to our young people in a parochial school setting,” he said. “I look forward to being able to learn as much as I can from whichever pastor I am assigned with, and joyfully contributing to the parish community I am called to serve.”

Although he is the sole ordinand for the diocese this year, Healy expressed great joy over the prospect of the more than a dozen other seminarians currently studying and who will hopefully follow in his footsteps.

“It has been such a great joy to witness the growing number of vocations in the diocese which I see as the fruit of the hard work of Bishop da Cunha and the Vocations Office,” Healy said. “The Lord of the harvest has heard the prayers of so many in bringing the men that we have currently have in formation to study for the Diocese of Fall River. Let’s pray that God continues to raise up many more faithful men to serve His people.”

Ryan Healy’s ordination to the priesthood will be streamed live on the diocesan Facebook page beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 1. 


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