Welcome! This blog celebrates both the local and the catholic -- that is, universal -- aspects of the Roman Catholic Church by sharing reflections on experiences of the Church in a variety of settings and cultures. Postings will come from around the world and around the corner. You don't have to be a Catholic to come along.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Poet-Priest of the South

The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina reminds me that the unofficial “poet laureate of the Confederacy” was a Catholic priest, and we were guests in his house.

On a trip to visit our son, Mike, at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., some years ago, we spent two nights at the Father Ryan House Bed & Breakfast Inn.

The house, built in 1841, was a National Historic Landmark directly looking out on the Gulf. Right in front stood a palm tree with steps build around. Our top-floor room had a great view.

Although the house took its name from Fr. Abram Ryan (1838-1886), once tremendously popular as a poet-priest in southern and Catholic circles, Fr. Ryan apparently lived in Biloxi less than a year.

I was more interested in the house’s present than in its past: The owners of the B&B used the proceeds from the business to fund their medical missionary work in, I believe, Central America. So we had a great stay and supported a great cause.

Sadly, all of the references to the Father Ryan House are in the past tense because it is no more. Hurricane Katrina wiped it out in 2005. Only the palm tree in front was left in one piece. The website lives on, however, with an excellent photographic tour of this once-great house.

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