Joliet Priest Francis Lee Ryan

Father Francis Lee Ryan

Rev. Francis Lee Ryan was “given the chance” to study for the priesthood in 1959 and was ordained in 1968.  In the early 1970s, the Diocese of Joliet received multiple letters from parishioners “criticizing Father Ryan,” however the Diocese has yet to produce those letters.  In 1985, the Diocese appointed Ryan as Diocesan Director of Vocations, a position of power he used to groom and abuse young boys who desired to enter the priesthood.  In April 1991 the Diocese received numerous reports of “rumors” regarding Ryan.  One parishioner states the rumors are “so violent in nature that if [true] should be investigated and Fr. [Ryan] should be defrocked.”  The parishioner then challenged Bishop Imesch by asking “if he is not suitable to remain at St. Francis, how can you in good conscience appoint him to another parish?” The Diocese did nothing in response except transfer Ryan to another parish.  In February 1993, a parishioner reported to Bishop Kaffer that Ryan “told him that he himself was a homosexual and had solicited” him.  However, Bishop Kaffer dismisses the complaint by saying the parishioner is “slightly retarded.”  In early 2002, the Diocese received reports of Ryan trying to groom a married man by repeatedly kissing him.  In response, Bishop Kaffer admitted Ryan engaged in “outrageous” conduct and “loved to shock people” when they worked together, but denies any abusive behavior.  The Diocese then sent Ryan for psychological treatment but then allowed him to resume an active ministry.  In 2010, a man came forward and reported Ryan sexually abused him while he was a student at Providence High School in the 1970s.  The Diocese placed Ryan on leave and in 2011 the Diocesan Review Committee unanimously agreed that allegations of abuse against Ryan were sustained.  Despite this agreement, in 2012 Bishop Conlon received instruction from Rome to reinstate Ryan because Ryan was not guilty of a “serious crime.”  Bishop Conlon then assigned him to St. Edmund Parish and St. Joseph Mission, but only a week later again placed Ryan on administrative leave “for the sake of the greater good of the Church.”