A local woman has been awarded a distinguishedpapal honour for her decades of service to the Catholic Church in Kilkenny.
Teresa Ryan was last week awarded the Benemerenti Medal for her dedicated and outstanding service to the Black Abbey and the Church. She was presented with it recently in front of a packed church of family and well wishers.
The service was led by Fr Gregory Carroll, Provincial of the Irish Dominican order, accompanied by Fr Joe Kavanagh , Fr Louis Hughes , Fr Tom Jordan, Fr Finbar Kelly , and Fr Willie Purcell.
Teresa, who lives on Blackmill Street, is well known locally for all the good work that she does in the parish, and her active involvement in the community. For over 40 years she has worked voluntarily for her parish.
Originally from Ballintogher, Sligo, she moved to Kilkenny at a young age, where she would meet her future husband, Joe Ryan-Val. Married in 1959, they went on to have nine children.
After some time in the UK, during which Teresa worked in a Dominican Sisters nursing home, the Ryans moved back to Kilkenny in 1965. They first settled first in Ballyragget, then Palmerstown, and finally in 1972 they moved to Blackmill Street.
At this time Teresa started to help out in the Black Abbey. Teresa started by helping the late Br Conrad Boyle (RIP) the then sacristan. As time went on, Teresa got more involved in the running of the abbey.
During the restoration of the building in 1976, Teresa started to coordinate fundraising. From 1976 until 2005, Teresa coordinated the annual city and county church gate collections as well as the annual two-day street collections.
This involved driving all across the dioceses and spending hours on the phone, finding people to help and collecting the money after the collection. This money helped clear the massive debt for the restoration of the abbey. For many years, Teresa counted (by hand) the mass collections and lodged them.
In addition to the fund raising, she cleaned the church every Tuesday.
Teresa worked with many dedicated ladies cleaning the church over the years. However, for over 40 years, she was joined every Tuesday by Nancy Nicolson. Nancy and Teresa cleaned brass, built cribs, arranged flowers, swept and washed the floor, cleaned windows, and more.
They even arranged funerals for community members. The number of jobs in the church completed by these two remarkable ladies are too numerous to mention.
Each year since 1972 Teresa was one of the driving forces behind the annual Novena to St martin De Porres.
In the 1980 and 90's, Teresa was very involved with Dominican Council of youth, and was always very supportive of the youth movement.
She has been involved with many other aspects of the church over the years, including the Abbey Singers, Widows' Association, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and after-school progreammes.
Teresa's holiness, generosity and hospitality are the essence of a good Dominican.