Sunday, November 06, 2005

Priest Offers Communion to Unrepentant Faithful

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Father Ryan consecrates the bread and wine on this light and easy-to-transport card table.

HOUSTON -- As a priest, Father Sean Ryan gives hope to the hurting, comfort to the suffering, and the sacraments to the Catholic Church's unrepentant faithful.

"I get a bit embarrassed when people try to deify me," said Ryan. "The folks I minister to are depressed because the Church - or their own consciences - have told them they can't take communion. I am merely being true to my calling, and my calling is to ease their guilt and give them Christ's Body and Blood."

Elinor Banks, a speech teacher at Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows in Houston, said Father Ryan brought healing to her after she began an affair with her principal, Dan Skelnik, and divorced her husband. She later married Skelnik in a civil ceremony downtown. "The Church wouldn't honor my divorce, or the love between me and Dan. I was well-known in my parish, and my priest wouldn't give me communion. Yeah, I could have slinked over to another church and anonymously taken communion, but I didn't want to do that. I wanted a priest to accept me for what I am. Father Ryan did that."

Banks' husband, Wayne, began a relationship with his secretary, Tina, and the two were married at the Flames of Holy Glory Christian Church off of I-10. He, too, has started receiving communion from Father Ryan.

"When Elinor left, it was really painful," he said. "My spiritual director told me to pray for Elinor, and wait for her to come back. I waited for a couple of weeks but, you know, I have needs."

According to Wayne, Fr. Ryan is a Godsend. "When I see that Range Rover pull up in my driveway, I know Fr. Ryan has come by to give me some of the Church's love."

John Warner, of Sugarland, TX, who owns and operates an abortion and family planning clinic, said he is grateful for Fr. Ryan's compassion, along with the bread and wine he delivers to him every Sunday. "He understands me," said Warner. "We are both trying to help people. The Church tells me what I am doing is wrong, but Fr. Ryan and I see it as a ministry of compassion."

"It is not my place to say whether or not any of these people will go to Hell," said Father Ryan. "However, it is my place to give them communion for the journey."

Striving to be a Higher Being