St. James’ Cathedral in Seattle, WA has tripled in attendance during the two-decade leadership of Fr. Michael Ryan- growth, he says, that was ignited only after the building was renovated.
Sure the building needed renewal, but Fr. Ryan says so did the parish, so the building was designed to foster Christian community in ways that have paid off, big time.
In this interview, this nationally-known leader talks about how change was implemented that turned a sleepy ‘seniors club’ into a vibrant hub for urban ministry.
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Synopsis 3,000 families and still growing – Fr. Michael says they come out of a passion for social justice and the liturgy – which a new building helped highlight. Here are my notes from the interview:
Listen First, Ask Questions Later
The first 3 years of Michael’s cathedral ministry were spent in listening – he did not begin to change things for at least that long, thus he established the trust he needed to carry him through the changes God had in mind.
Go Slowly, Get Buy-In
Fr. Michael describes a ponderous and deliberate journey including public meetings, brainstorming sessions, and field trips to help bring the parish on board with their biggest challenge: physical space that handcuffed them. Slow, but sure paid off.
Ministry for the Long Haul
40+ years in ministry – and, besides God’s grace, Michael credits daily prayer and meditation times, annual retreats, and regular exercise that have helped him stay focused, engaged, and excited about his vocation.
About Michael Ryan
Michael G. Ryan graduated from high school at St. Edward’s Seminary in Kenmore and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from St. Thomas Seminary in Kenmore. He attended the North American College in Rome, completed his graduate theological studies at the Gregorian University there and, on December 17, 1966, was ordained a priest at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Fr. Ryan has served in pastoral roles in several parishes, served as the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Seattle, as a member of the college faculty at St. Thomas Seminary, and as Chancellor for the Archdiocese of Seattle and Vicar General. He now serves as Pastor of St. James Cathedral. In 1994, Father Ryan oversaw the nationally acclaimed renovation and restoration of the Cathedral. Under his leadership, the Cathedral parish has tripled in size since the Renovation, drawing families from more than 180 ZIP codes. Father Ryan has served on many church governing boards, including the Board of Directors of The National Catholic Reporter, the National Association of Cathedral Pastors, the board of the Institute of Theological Studies at Seattle University, Catholic Community Services of Seattle-King County, the Providence Foundation, and the Church Council of Greater Seattle. His community involvements have included service on the Board of the United Way of King County and of the Noah Sealth L’Arche Community of Seattle. In 1999 he was awarded a Doctoral Degree in Humanities by Seattle University.