Sister Mary Agnes Ryan, 70, of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Gloucester City, died of cancer Friday at the parish convent.
Formerly of Woodbury, Sister Mary had been at St. Mary's for about 30 years, visiting the sick, the needy and the homebound, particularly senior citizens.
"When it came to helping others, she couldn't tell time," said her cousin Bob Florich. "Any time of night, she'd be there to help."
"Her philosophy of life was to be there for others, and that's what she did," added Msgr. James P. Curran, pastor of St. Mary's. "She was there for the old and young and anyone who needed her in any way."
Sister Mary was active in the Msgr. Edward B. Lucitt Needy Children Program, which provided clothing and toys to the poor, and also the annual Thanksgiving food drive. She was a founder of Senior Citizens United Community Services, a group that provides transportation to supermarkets and malls, and she helped to establish a local Meals on Wheels program.
Sister Mary attended St. Patrick's School in Woodbury. In 1957, she graduated from Gloucester Catholic High School in Gloucester City, where she played varsity basketball, field hockey, and softball.
After graduation, she briefly worked for W.B. Saunders Publishing Co. and Camden Trust Co.
In 1958, she entered the order of the Dominican Sisters of Newburgh, N.Y., and became a teacher. Later, she was stationed in New Haven and Bridgeport, Conn.; Alexandria, Va.; and at St. Rose of Lima parish in Haddon Heights.
In 1974, Sister Mary worked for the Diocese of Camden, serving parishioners at St. Joan of Arc Church in Fairview and the Church of the Incarnation in Mantua.
At St. Mary's, she was active in the community, winning the Lions Club award for Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 1997 for her dedication to her work and citizens.
"She brought hope to whomever she met and wherever she went," said Sister Maureen Cooper, a friend who lived in the convent with her. "She brought happiness to many, many people."
Sister Mary was honored by the Gloucester Catholic Alumni Association, which gave her the Dr. Frank and Catherine Kelly award in 2002 for bringing honor and recognition to the school.
Sister Mary is survived by cousins.
A viewing is scheduled for 10 to 11 a.m. today at St. Mary's Church, 426 Monmouth St., Gloucester City, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment will be at New St. Mary's Cemetery, Bellmawr.
Donations may be made to St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church Fund, or the Newburgh Center of Hope Development Office, 320 Powell Ave., Newburgh, N.Y. 12550.