St. Thomas University campus minister Janice Ryan resigned last week after almost 13 years at the university.
She moved to Ottawa to be with her daughter who attends university there.
Adam Blanchard, a third-year Religion and Catholic Studies major at St. Thomas, said he was dismayed when he heard the news.
“She was the core of [campus ministry,] she did so much for the benefit of the students,” said Blanchard
Ryan was a prominent figure in the STU community. As campus minister she performed many religious duties such as organizing weekly and special masses and Christmas celebrations. She brought together the Catholic community, and acted as a councillor for students.
“She was a spiritual educator,” said Blanchard.
Ryan also oversaw the food bank and organized interfaith events such as the Bridge to Unity.
Sara Perez, a fourth-year international student, said if not for Janice Ryan, she wouldn’t be as involved in the community as she is.
“She was one of the first people I met,” said Perez. “She helped me get integrated in the community because I started going to activities in the chapel and then I started meeting a lot of students and I met one of my best friends there and I also met my boyfriend.”
It has not been confirmed why Ryan resigned, but Blanchard suggests that the relationship between the campus minister and the administration could have been better during the past year.
“I think it had a lot to do with the lack of dialogue or discussion that took place in the previous year during the process of moving the chapel to Holy Cross,” said Blanchard. “She originally wanted a leave of absence but the university administration did not grant that.”
Jeffrey Carleton, director of communications at STU, said he’s not aware of any specifics about why Ryan left.
“That’s between Janice and her supervisor and the university.”
Both Perez and Blanchard believe Janice Ryan’s resignation has left a gap in the community. Perez saw Ryan as a friend.
“It’s not the same thing to go to a councillor at the university than to go to a campus minister because they will have a different perspective,” said Perez. “She had a different perspective of things and that made her unique.”
According to Carleton, the university has identified a volunteer who will fill Ryan’s position for the present time. A permanent campus minister will be hired in the near future.
“We intend to fill the position as quickly as we can,” said Carleton.
“I think the community can persevere, but in her absence there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty amongst the students,” said Blanchard.
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