Franciscan Sister Chooses St. Clare for Namesake

Paul Keggington

April 15, 2013

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Clarita Ryan reflects on her call to be a consecrated woman religious.


Very early in my life I had a desire to be a Sister. One of my favorite pastimes was to play school with my friends. I always took the part of the teacher. When there weren’t enough friends to be students, our family dog was a good substitute.

My parents, Frank and Hattie Ryan, had four children – two boys and two girls. I am the youngest. We belonged to Holy Redeemer Parish in Madison. There I was baptized, received my First Communion and was confirmed in the Catholic faith.

The Notre Dame Sisters taught in the parish school during my grade school years. As I was contemplating a religious vocation, Sister Carolyn, a favorite teacher of mine, encouraged me and gave me a special book of prayers. All her letters to me now are still filled with the love of God.

Picture2So, how did it come about that I entered a Franciscan Community! My mother and dad were good friends of Sister Maribeth Zehnpfennig, a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity. Sister Maribeth’s great kindness and friendship with my parents inspired me in my vocation and I entered Holy Family Convent in Manitowoc, WI.

My mother had great devotion to St. Clare. As my Reception drew Franciscan-Sister-Clarita-Ryan-and-familynear, she set about looking for a derivative of the name Clare that was not already taken by a Sister in the Community. At my Reception I was given the name Clarita.

During much of my apostolic life, I served in the education field as teacher and principal. I found I also liked taking care of the sick, which led to one of the most rewarding experiences in my apostolic life. I was asked to be a homemaker/companion for retired Bishop Aloysius Wycislo. At first I felt very inadequate and not worthy to accept this assignment. But once I said, “Yes,” this position was filled with countless blessings and joy. I was privileged to be with Bishop Wycislo during his last days on earth. I know he is now caring for me!

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