Sue Can Do That!

Three years ago, Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church bade goodbye to retiring minister John Branson.

He’d done an enormous amount for the handsome building with the very active congregation in downtown Westport. In his farewell speech, Rev. Branson gave a heartfelt shout-out to Sue Ryan.

Now she’s leaving. And though even the greatest ministers come and go, a woman like her may be almost impossible to replace.

Her title is “parish administrator.” But that does not do her justice. Perhaps it should be “Wonder Woman.”

For 17 years, Sue has done just about everything. She’s the first person anyone sees in the church office. She’s a problem-solver — though she makes sure most issues never reach the problem stage. She’s a go-getter, a Ms. Fixit, an imperturbable, warm, genuinely friendly and ultra-caring woman.

Sue Ryan and Jessica Branson (Rev. Branson's daughter). Sue is dressed in African gear because for 10 years before joining Christ & Holy Trinity Church, she owned a safari camp in Zimbabwe.

Sue Ryan and Rev. Branson’s daughter Jessica. Sue is dressed in African gear because for 10 years before joining Christ & Holy Trinity Church, she owned a safari camp in Zimbabwe.

Frances Rowland — the church’s former warden — calls her “everyone’s mother. She’s remarkable. Her worth goes way beyond her hours and her job.”

Sue organizes weddings, receptions and funerals. When parishioners call the church about illness, death and other tragedies, she’s the one who answers.

Sue is the first person in church in the mornings, and the last to leave at night. During the winter, she even shovels snow.

Sue has gone on 5 church mission trips. “The kids love her,” Frances says.

“We all do,” she adds. “Sue is everybody’s favorite person.”

Last night, Sue had her own farewell party at Christ & Holy Trinity. Appropriately, one of the speakers was Jessica Branson — whose father hired Sue 17 years ago.

“Your shoes cannot be filled,” Jessica said. “But I know they will take you on many exciting journeys in the years to come.”

4 responses to “Sue Can Do That!

  1. Kimberly andrews

    Bravo to you for writing a piece on Sue Ryan!
    I am one of her biggest fans and am delighted that she is being recognized !
    As the former high school youth minister for CHT, and an 18 year member of CHT, I worked closely with Sue for many years! She is truly an extraordinary woman! No … she is an extraordinary human! She is the definition of Goodness! She is kind, generous, warm, caring, dedicated , hardworking and above all loving ! She was a chaperone on 6 youth mission trips with me … and what an incredible role model she is for the youth of both CHT and Westport! She worked harder on these trips , digging ditches and building concrete walls than any one I have seen in my 12 mission trips I have attended! And when the physical work was done, she had a smile and a hug and a good word for all of us on the team. During the school year, she also chaperoned youth events … after working 10 -12 hours at church( yes she is often in the office at 6:00 in the morning) she would join the youth group for Midnight Run. Midnight Run is the non-profit organization that feeds the homeless of NYC.. We would drive into the city at midnight , feed the homeless and return at 5 a.m. Yes! Sue Ryan would be there with us!
    She is more than the church administrator, She is more than a 17 year employee, She is more than a familiar face to many… SHE IS A ROCK STAR! A loyal friend , an invaluable employee at CHT, and a committed resident of Westport! Hundreds , Ha! probably thousands of people know her because of her generous spirit, hard work and dedication to all she does! Fundraisers? She’s there with her checkbook! Volunteerism? She is there with her sleeves rolled up…Board meetings? She’s there with ideas and intellect and the list goes on!
    She will be missed around town and at CHT, and Jessica Branson is right..there are no shoes that will fill the size 6 shoe , Sue Ryan wears! But oh the places she’ll go with her shoes on!
    Thank you Sue Ryan for letting so many Westporters walk the path with you , learning along the way how to be better citizens of the world!

  2. I just can’t imagine Sue not being there. She’s my friend. But she was also my co-manager when Eileen Wiseman and I were producing folk concerts at the Seabury Center for the Westport Arts Center. Sue was the person who knew everything and took care of everything. But I will tell you one thing, Sue was like a mother protecting its child when it came to that church. The church always came first. She is indeed irreplaceable. See you around town, Sue.

  3. Sue has seen parish families through joy and sadness with competence and compassion. With her there at weddings, funerals and services, you knew everything would be okay, not just in that moment, but in general in the broadest sense.

  4. Hi Dan,  This was nice, and she sure was a wonder woman   I attended there once in awhile, but than went to Christ and Holy Trinity for awhile and then when  met Richard we went to N Stamford Congregational as Richard was living there so we continued as only 20 mins on ParkwayMy news (very sad, happy and confusing) is that I am not in New Orleans renting downstairs apt from my son Rob and his partner Charles.  It’s nice, but hard for me at my age   My kitty is having some difficulty alsoThey have a Y but have not been yet  yesterday we went to pool at rob health clubMiss you all, but you sure – honest – would love lots of visits  have a spare bedroom plus you know Rob works at intercontinentalSandy