Fr. Ray RylandIf you’ve ever visited this humble blog in the past, chances are pretty good that you know I’m a fan of the late Fr. Ray Ryland. He was my friend, mentor, and spiritual director for many years, and among the heroes of my life. You probably also know that since Fr. Ray’s passing, my dad compiled hundreds of Fr. Ray’s responses to questions about the Catholic faith into a remarkable e-book. Well, that e-book just won an international award.

As it turns out, the award isn’t about the content of the book, but the innovative technology that my dad spends his days developing. His pioneering work in digital search systems (for decades) has apparently positioned him to create a pretty darn good e-book. As a casual reader, the feature I like best is being able to surf “themes” at the end of each question and answer. Warning: this can lead to hours of utter absorption into the book, as Fr. Ray’s cogent and whimsical answers provide fantastic reading.

Here’s a copy of the press release, for those interested in the technology and/or the content.

Media Contact: John Scott –

Wins International Award

(Steubenville, Ohio) January 19, 2016 – Dr. Douglas Lowry, publisher/editor of “Catholic Q&A: Essentials of the Faith Explained” by Father Raymond Ryland has been awarded first place in the 2015 competition for excellence in web and eBook indexing. The Web & Electronic Indexing SIG (special interest group) has offered this award each year since 2008. The competition is open to members of indexing societies in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and China. 2015 marks the first year that the award has been won in the United States.

The ebook consists of Fr Ryland’s answers to 676 questions about the Catholic faith, sent in by readers of his column in 2004 through 2014. Besides the extended back-of-the-book index, the ebook has two award-winning features. A list of themes appears at the end of each answer; a reader may follow through on any theme simply by touching a Forward or Back button beside the theme. In addition, the ebook is supported by full text online search.

Douglas Lowry, a retired Franciscan University of Steubenville business professor edited, indexed and published the ebook. Lowry, recipient of the First Place Award for 2015, earned his doctorate from the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. He has been developing search engines and indexing technology since 1984. His patented “MarpX” search engine streamlines text search results, filtering out extraneous/ false hits common to standard search engines. Lowry has digitally indexed over 4,000 books, most no longer protected by copyright including the Bible as well as works by Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The competition judge commends the Lowry entry: “There are still human indexes in the eBook and the search engine complements that with very accurate proximity search that uses distance between words in the search making entries very accurate.”

The ebook’s author, the late Father Raymond Olin Ryland, PhD, J.D., was especially equipped to reach across the Protestant – Catholic divide. His spiritual pilgrimage is recounted in his autobiography Drawn From Shadows Into Truth (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Press, 2013). Raised in the Disciples of Christ Church, in 1950 he was ordained an Episcopal priest. By 1963, Ryland was convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith, so that he, his wife Ruth, and their five children entered the Catholic Church. He went on to earn a doctorate in theology from Marquette University and a law degree from the University of San Diego in 1983. That year Fr Ryland became only the second married former Episcopal priest in the United States to be ordained a Catholic priest under the Pastoral Provision that allowed married clergy converts from Protestantism to be ordained priests. In 1991, Fr. Ryland retired as full professor of theology from the University of San Diego and moved to Steubenville, Ohio, to work as an adjunct professor at Franciscan University. He served in St Peter Catholic Church, lectured widely, and was a regular columnist for The Catholic Answer magazine.

“I wholeheartedly recommend the wisdom of Fr. Ray Ryland. I knew him well for the last quarter of his remarkable life. I still treasure the gift of his friendship and wisdom, his deep insight and good humor. Like many others, I learned a great deal from him through his preaching, teaching, and our many conversations. This collection will preserve his many gifts for years to come.” said Scott Hahn, biblical theology professor and author.

The ebook Catholic Q&A: Essentials of the Faith Explained by Father Ray Ryland can be purchased by visiting For details of the Web & Electronic Indexing SIG Awards, see


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