Patrick John Ryan was a Roman Catholic priest, bishop and archbishop in America in very turbulent and challenging times. He experienced the mass influx of European immigrants, anti-foreigner and anti-Catholic prejudice, the American Civil War and efforts to serve the needs of the African Americans and Native Americans.
Ireland prepared him for the life he chose to lead. He encountered religious discrimination and the penal-law mentality and he witnessed the Great Famine. Influenced by the accomplishments of Daniel O’Connell, he began to develop his skills as an orator for which he was to gain a world-wide reputation.