The historical gains of the twentieth century religious education movement would have been limited if not for the legacy of Mary Perkins Ryan. Her intellectual ideas for reforming religious education were embedded in a new vision of church as the community of the People of God. A decade before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), Ryan was a liberating and creative force for the role of religious education in making accessible a religious way of life that embraced living faithfully and thinking critically. Under her editorial leadership at the "Living Light," the journal became a critical bridge between the community of the scholar and that of the practitioner; evolving beyond a more narrow catechetical mission to embrace critical themes in theological education and pedagogy, including Christian-Jewish relations. Ryan was a prophetic voice in the teaching church - an unlettered woman whose legacy offered women scholars and practitioners a model of life and work that could inspire their own.