Canadian Redemptorist War Chaplains Immortalized in Ottawa

posted on 24/01/19 01:13 pm by Kathy McMerty  

By MC Havey, Archivist

The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa has accepted the archives’ donation about the 31 war chaplains from the Toronto Province. The information of their military service and photographs were published in Community Connections a year ago and more recently as a chapter in the book about The Redemptorists in English-speaking Canada.

Jennifer Potter, acquisitions and documentation officer at the museum, received the donation in the summer and has created a file for each confrere, which will be available upon request.

Since its opening in 2005, the new museum in downtown Ottawa welcomes approximately 500,000 visitors every year to view their collections, as well as collects documents, artifacts, medals and information of Canadians at war and other aspects of the country’s military history.

Also this summer, arrangements were made with the reference department of Library and Archives Canada to receive copies of the Second World War assignment reports of Army chaplain Fr. J. Arthur Ryan.

Although Captain Ryan arrived in England in late 1940, the reports detail his varied pastoral duties between October 1941 and May 1943 in southern England, including celebrating Mass in local churches, makeshift chapels and the Field Punishment Camp, as well as counselling soldiers on upcoming marriages to English brides.

Regrettably, his later service was not found. Fr. Ryan was transferred to the North African campaign and joined the First Canadian Infantry Division in Italy. The Eighth British Army was added to his chaplaincy during the liberation of Holland in the spring of 1945. Demobilized shortly afterwards, he returned to Canada and was stationed in St. Joseph’s parish, Grande Prairie. He served as Toronto Provincial Superior from 1952 until 1961.

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