Herbert J. (Herb) Ryan, S.J., served as professor of theological studies at LMU from 1974 to 2006. A specialist in early Christian theology and doctrine, Christian ministry, church history, Christian mysticism, Celtic Christianity, and ecumenism, Father Ryan was a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Theological Society of America, and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He authored three books, published more than 65 scholarly articles in the U.S. and six European countries, and wrote more than 90 book reviews in his field. He was fluent in French, German, Italian, and Spanish, with reading mastery in Greek, Latin, Portuguese, and Dutch. Father Ryan is remembered as a dynamic classroom instructor whose lectures often included his impersonations of historical church figures. In 1980, he became the only faculty member of his generation to be selected by the graduating seniors as the University's commencement speaker. In 2001, Father Ryan received the President's Fritz B. Burns Distinguished Teaching Award, LMU's highest annual faculty honor. His teaching career spanned high school to university positions. After his retirement from full-time teaching and research, Father Ryan guided many faculty and staff members through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and maintained an online advice column, "Ask Father Herbie," in which he answered theological and spiritual questions through LMU's Center for Ignatian Spirituality.
Father Ryan entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-the-Hudson, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1949 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1962. He earned his graduate degrees summa cum laude in philosophy and history from Loyola University of Chicago and in theology from Woodstock College in Maryland. His doctorate in sacred theology, with high honors, was earned from the Gregorian University in Rome. Father Ryan's official church work included serving as assistant to John Courtney Murray, S.J., at the Second Vatican Council (Rome, Sessions 2-4, 1963-65) and peritus (theological adviser) for Cardinal Francis Spellman, archbishop of New York, at the Council. He received the International Christian Unity Award in 1974, the Pontifical Medal of Merit in 1980 from Pope John Paul II, and the Cross of Saint Augustine in 1981 from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, for his work as part of the historic First Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission. Father Ryan passed away in 2010.