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Ghostly Priest or Ministering Angel?

Updated on October 24, 2016
Father Kellen Ryan
Father Kellen Ryan | Source

Appearing on anniversary of his death

The ghost is a priest named Kellen Ryan. He entered seminary school in Ontario, Canada in 1953, studied history at St. Bonaventure, and was ordained a priest on May 27, 1965. He taught at Catholic High in Joliet, Illinois from 1966 until his untimely death on March 6, 1972.

When alive Father Ryan had a reputation at Catholic High as a fun-loving person who liked to play pranks. He once ran through the priory in the middle of the night, rousting his fellow clerics out of sleep with a distressing cry about a break in at the rectory. Once all of the bleary-eyed priests and brothers had been assembled there, Father Ryan turned on the lights to reveal a room decorated for a party. It was a well-concealed surprise party.

Father Ryan's parents lived nearby in Chicago. On Saturday, March 5, 1972, he drove away from Catholic High to pay them a visit. He did not return to the school alive.

On his way back to Catholic High after visiting his parents Father Kellen Ryan had a tragic automobile accident. It was 4:10 in the morning and the good-hearted priest had fallen asleep at the wheel. The car left the road, struck a utility pole and burst into flames. Father Ryan had presumably died on impact.

He did not waste any time in returning to earth in ghostly form. On the evening of Father Ryan's death a fellow priest named Father John Koernschild, was drawn to the cafeteria by a blaring juke box. When Father Koernschild examined the juke box he was astonished to find that there wasn't even a record on the turntable.

This seemed like one of Father Ryan's tricks. But he was no longer alive. Could it have been his ghost?

Father Ryan was replaced at Catholic High by Mike Nadeau. A month after Father Ryan's death Mike was suddenly awakened in the night by the ghost of the late priest who was sitting in a nearby rocking chair dressed in the official garb of his Carmelite Order.

Any thoughts that this vision might have just been a dream were dispelled when the next morning Mike found the March 7, 1972 printing of the obituary for Father Ryan lying on the floor by the rocking chair. This was very odd because Mike had a particular habit of discarding newspapers that were over a week old and this one was a month old. But odder still was the fact that the clock on Mike's room had stopped at 4:10 a.m., the presumed time of Father Ryan's death!

Some months later, the ghost appeared at the foot of the bed of Father Lucas Smith. Father Ryan assured him that he was happy where he now was and that all was well.

The ghost gave the same assurance to another one of the priests at Catholic High in the summer of 1977. Again positioned at the foot of the bed, Father Ryan issued his message of well-being to Father Bernhard Bauerle.

Kellen Ryan had more visits to make. One of them was a particularly noisy one on the anniversary of his death. On March 6, 1982, an incessant knocking occurred at the back door of the rectory followed by an urgent ringing of the doorbell.

A priest hurried down to answer the summonses but found no one there. Of course, this could have been the work of a living prankster, but if the knocking and ringing had been done by a human why weren't there any footprints left in the snow outside the priory door? As significant to note - the commotion took place at about 4:10 a.m.


Catholic High

Catholic High when Father Ryan taught here
Catholic High when Father Ryan taught here | Source

Haunting his old classroom

When alive Father Ryan was an instructor in classroom 306. It shouldn't be surprising to know that after his passing this is one of the rooms which he haunted with the most consistency.

The lights in classroom 306 are frequently seen blazing during the early morning hours when no one - even the janitor - is supposed to be there. It was a common event for one of the priests to go to room 306 to turn off the lights only to see them turned on again moments after he'd departed.

Sometimes it would be a janitor who turned off the lights. The janitors didn't always make it to room 306 before meeting the ghost of Father Ryan. On one occasion a figure dressed in a Carmelite habit complete with hood silently passed the janitor in the hall.

When the figure did not respond to the janitor in any way, the janitor became suspicious and followed the spectre to at least get a peek at his face. There wasn't any face to be seen. Was this a special effect being produced by the ghost of Father Ryan as a type of prank from the other side? The hideous, faceless cleric in the hall?

Father Ryan's fame as a spectre grew so large that students gathered in the high school on the anniversary of his death. On three straight occasions the burglar alarm went off on those nights in what used to Father Ryan's office.

Ministering angel?

One of the most astounding exploits of Father Ryan's ghost took place on the 7th anniversary of his death. On that night - at 4:10 am - his ghost made an appearance at the Carmelite Hall in Washington D.C. and began playing the organ. People who were arriving early for the 5 am Mass were astounded by the sight.

It is critically important to note the actual time on the clock when the ghost of Father Ryan makes most of its appearances. Also significant are the dates. He is a very predictable and purposefully driven spirit.

Many sightings of his ghost as noted appeared on an anniversary of his death and at or very near the time of his death. Additionally, many of his appearances have a decided prank like nature. He, of course, was known as a prankster in life.

The ghost of Kellen Ryan is one of the best documented on record and seen by some of the most trustworthy of witnesses. Yet his haunting is among the least know in all of ghostdom.

It seems clear that Father Ryan has not completely accepted his death. This is very common among those who have died tragically and suddenly. The last thing he would have remembered would be getting in his car that fateful night and driving down the highway toward Catholic High.

Maybe when death released his spirit from his body he believed that the trip to Catholic High had been completed. Father Ryan's ghost attempted to resume life as if nothing had happened, pulling the same pranks, visiting with the other priests. He probably recognized that something was drastically wrong but didn't understand what.

Until Father Ryan's spirit understands that it has been released from the body and it no longer belongs here it will continue its haunting. In this case, prayers would be particularly useful to help this lost spirit find its way home and to God, the architect of all the universe.

Or, is he also doubling as a ministering angel? I believe this is the case. Father Ryan may have been assigned the job of comforting those who have suffered injury involving serious automobile accidents due to the manner in which he died. Who could have more sympathy for a person trapped in a similar situation? This is not mere speculation.

In 2013 a case of a serious automobile crash captured national attention due to the appearance of a spectral priest at the scene, a priest who has never - in many people’s opinion - been truly identified.

The mysterious priest who appeared out of nowhere in answer to loudly spoken prayers may himself have once been the victim of a fatal traffic accident. Katie Lentz was struck in a head on collision on Sunday August 4rth, 2013 and lay pinned in her car for almost an hour while rescue workers tried in vain to free her. When hope seemed to be almost gone, the injured woman asked everyone to pray aloud. And when they did a Catholic priest appeared from nowhere. He blessed the scene with anointing oils and assured Katie that all would be well and that the new rescue equipment would save her. It did. When Fire chief Raymond Reed and others turned to thank the priest for his help, he had vanished. No one saw his arrival, No one saw his departure.

Numerous witnesses saw him on the scene. However, few of the descriptions match. Not only do they not match, but some of them are not even similar. How can that be? It can be if the visitor was a ghost, angel or a combination of both. I believe that the priest at the scene was the spirit of the late Father Kellen Ryan. Since his death father Ryan’s ghost has often appeared in a role of comforter and as a type of handyman. In life, Kellen Ryan had a special knack for fixing machinery. Could it be simply coincidence that shortly after the mysterious priest appeared on the scene that the new life saving equipment became available and was responsible for removing Katie from the wreckage?

This may be just one of many occasions when the spirit of this loving priest had saved people from the wreckage of horrible traffic accidents. Perhaps he should be considered a patron saint of victims of near fatal automobile crashes.

A priest from a parish in the vicinity claimed to be the one who ministered to the young accident victim, however he was probably induced to make this confession by his superiors in order to put an end to the publicity. He never could explain how he appeared from nowhere and disappeared into nothingness again. Why couldn’t the Church simply accept that God had sent an “angel” to help one in need, an “angel” who’d once been a priest?

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      Maura Ryan 

      5 years ago

      Dylan, Father Kellen was my uncle he was a wonderful man and we all still miss him. Thank you for your kind words about him.

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