He was born on West 141st Street in Harlem, New York City in 1920. His mother, from Co. Limerick, worked as father, from Co. Tipperary. He took seminary training at St. Joseph’s in Yonkers, New York.
Fr. Ryan was ordained on 27 January 1945 by Francis Cardinal Spellman. His first assignment was to St. Anthony of Padua, was an African-American parish on East 166th Street, where he stayed for 21 years.
In 1966, Fr. Ryan became pastor of St. Luke’s.
In 1995, Fr. Gerald Ryan was made a monsignor by John Cardinal O’Connor. In an article         
Msgr. Ryan is quoted as saying, “Real love. Not from the mouth, but from the heart.”