Sister Mary Ryan, who served in Gloucester for decades, dies


Dominican Sister Mary Ryan, of Woodbury, who spent almost 40 years in service to St. Mary Parish and to the Gloucester City area, died Dec. 18 at the age of 70.

Born in Philadelphia in May 1939 to the late Anna E. (nee Kennedy) and George J. Ryan, Sister Mary was raised in Woodbury, where she attended St. Patrick School. She graduated from Gloucester Catholic High School, Gloucester City in 1957, having excelled in basketball, field hockey and softball. She remained an avid supporter of the school her entire life.

After graduation, she worked for Saunder’s Publishing Company, Camden Trust, as well as at a local law firm.

In 1958, she entered the order of Dominican Sisters of Newburgh, making her first profession in July 1960, and final profession in August 1963.

For the next 16 years, she taught in schools in New York, Connecticut and Virginia, and locally at St. Rose of Lima in Haddon Heights (1961-67).

In 1974, she began her work in pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Camden, serving the people of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Camden (1973-75) and Incarnation Parish, Mantua (1975-77).

In 1977, Sister Mary arrived at St. Mary in Gloucester City, where she would spend the remainder of her years, dedicated to helping anyone she could. This work included visiting the sick and homebound, senior citizens and the needy.

Two projects closest to her heart were the Msgr. Edward B. Lucitt Needy Children Program, and the annual Thanksgiving food drive. In 1980, Sister Mary joined the board of Senior Citizens United Community Services (SCUCS), which was instrumental in providing Gloucester City residents use of the Sen Hans Bus, which transported individuals to supermarkets and area shopping malls. The SCUCS also established local deliveries of Meals on Wheels.

Sister Mary also was involved in the Key Communicators’ Meetings to help keep the community informed of happenings in their city.

In 1997, she received the Lion’s Club award for Distinguished Citizen of the Year for her dedication to her work and the citizens of the area. She was also honored in 2002, by the Gloucester Catholic Alumni Association, with the Dr. Frank and Catherine Kelly Award, given annually to a friend of Gloucester Catholic High School who through good work brings honor and recognition to the school.

She was the daughter of the late Anna E. (nee Kennedy) and George J. Ryan.

Sister Mary is survived by numerous cousins, friends, and her Dominican Sisters of Hope (formerly Newburgh Dominicans).

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Tuesday, Dec. 22, at St. Mary Church, Gloucester City. Interment was at New St. Mary’s Cemetery, Bellmawr.

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested in her memory to: St. Mary’s R.C. Church Fund, 426 Monmouth Street, Gloucester City, NJ 08030; or Newburgh Center of Hope, Development Office, 320 Powell Avenue, Newburgh, NY 12550-3412; or Gloucester Catholic High School. 333 Ridgeway Street, Gloucester City, NJ 08030, Attn: Mr. John Colman, Principal; or Samaritan Hospice, 5 Eves Drive, Suite 300, Marlton, NJ 08053. In the memo of your check, please write Sr. Mary Ryan.

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