Sister Mary Delaney, 84, of Merion Station, a retired professor of literature at Gwynedd-Mercy College and an educator in Philadelphia-area schools for more than 50 years, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Tuesday at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby.

During her long career, Sister Mary taught catechism to second graders preparing to make their First Communion, introduced teenagers to Shakespeare, and directed erudite research by college seniors.

After teaching younger students for 20 years, Sister Mary joined the Gwynedd-Mercy faculty in 1968 and chaired the college's literature department for 18 years. In the 1980s she was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to research the styles of several contemporary authors. Later she directed student research, abstracting educational themes from Sir Thomas More's

Utopia

. In 1981 she was the recipient of a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

In 1996, Sister Mary retired to a ministry of prayer at McCauley Convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Merion.

A graduate of West Philadelphia Catholic High School, she worked for the Philadelphia Water Department before entering the convent in 1945.

Sister Mary earned a bachelor's degree in English and Latin from Villanova University, a master's degree in English and linguistics from the Catholic University of America, and a doctorate in English education from Temple University.

From 1949 to 1955 she taught primary grades at St. Joseph School in Summit Hill, Pa., and at Our Lady of Lourdes School and St. Malachy School in Philadelphia.

Then for 13 years she taught at John W. Hallahan High School in Philadelphia, Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, Bishop Egan High School in Levittown, and at Gwynedd-Mercy Academy, where one of her students was Sister Mary Jane Morrison.

Sister Mary had deep respect for her students and her colleagues, Morrison said. She was proud of her heritage and loved Irish literature.

Though she struggled with health problems for years, Sister Mary retained her sense of humor and will be remembered for her wonderful laugh, Morrison said.

Sister Mary is survived by a sister, Cecilia Mahon; and a niece and nephew.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in the Convent of Mercy Chapel, 515 Montgomery Ave., Merion Station, Pa. 19066.

Friends may call from 9:30 a.m. Burial will be in the community's cemetery in Merion.

Donations may be made to the Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community at the address above.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.