By Renee Pada
David Ryan, from Las Vegas, Nev., loves life and has been protecting and nurturing life in a variety of ways since he was a child.
“I grew up on a farm southeast of Colby, Kansas, and learned my work ethic from my father and older brothers,” says David, the second youngest of 11 children. A typical day on the farm, he says, would begin at 5 a.m. with the six Ryan boys and their dad taking care of the livestock while their mom and five sisters prepared breakfast. David cared not only for the animals but the crops as well. “One of the chores I hated,” he confides, “was shoveling the picked corn into the sheller. Each day I had to do a truckload of 200 to 220 bushels.”
Despite the arduous work, David learned respect for the land, and he has wonderful childhood memories of family life, such as at Christmastime, when his mother would make black walnut taffy and popcorn balls that were famous throughout the county. “She would make 150 to 200 popcorn balls and put them into bags to be handed out to all the children after Midnight Mass,” David recalls.
“The Catholic faith was very important to my parents,” he continues, “and they made sure we attended catechism classes every Saturday. During Lent our teachers knew the Ryan kids would be late for school because we were attending daily Mass.”
After high school, David worked on the farm for two years, then enlisted in the Air Force in 1966.
That’s when he was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base in Texas and heard about the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. He’s been supporting our missions ever since. Stories in MARYKNOLL magazine and Air Force assignments to places like Thailand, Vietnam, Germany and Pakistan broadened his vision.
Retiring from the Air Force in 1992, he worked as an insurance agent for 20 years. Retired from that job, he now has more time for service. David participates with his wife Tracy in St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition, David volunteers with the Knights of Columbus and at First Choice Pregnancy Services in Las Vegas, which has become his passion.
According to its mission statement, First Choice Pregnancy Services (incorporated under Better Choice Pregnancy Services) is “a Christian mission reaching out and providing life-affirming support to women vulnerable to abortion.” First Choice in Las Vegas offers pregnant women services such as counseling and adoption alternatives and, in conjunction with a local residential facility called Living Grace Home, newborn aids, temporary shelter and job placement. As vice chairman and a member of the board, David is tireless in striving to raise money for First Choice, which is completely supported by private funding.
One of the goals of First Choice Pregnancy Services, David says, is to open another facility in Las Vegas, and he is confident it will become a reality. “God will provide the resources to not only continue this work but also to expand the mission to other areas and save the innocent lives of the unborn and provide them with the opportunities we all enjoy,” he says.
The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers are grateful to Partners in Mission like David Ryan, who not only support the mission society’s life-giving ministries throughout the world but also nurture life in their own way.
Featured Image: As vice chairman of the board, David Ryan helps First Choice Pregnancy Services in Las Vegas give at-risk women alternatives to abortion. (Courtesy of D. Ryan/U.S.)