Sister Mary Ventura, OP: 1928-2016


Springfield Dominican Sister Mary Ventura died on April 26, 2016, at Sacred Heart Convent. She was born in Bradley, Ill., in 1928, one of four children born to Philip and Josephine Ciaccio Ventura. She made her profession of vows in 1947 at Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield.

Sister Mary gave her life educating children and adults. As a primary school teacher she served in Chicago, Mt. Sterling, Odell, and Springfield. In Aurora and Morrisonville she was principal and junior high teacher. She also taught in East Alton and Rantoul, spent 14 summers in Mendota administering a federally-funded program for migrant children, and served part time on the staff at Alfred Fortin Villa, Bourbonnais. After teaching Vietnamese refugees in Peoria, 1985-1986, Sister Mary moved to St. Bernadette Parish in Evergreen Park, where she served for thirty years. She taught fourth grade, then in 1996 started Essential Learning Solutions (ELS), a computerized learning program for children and adults with learning difficulties.

In 1997, after just a year of running ELS at St. Bernadette, Sister Mary was recognized by the parent company as “one of our top facilitators in the entire country.” The commendation letter read in part, “Sister Mary has literally poured he life into these students and in the process has been a great encouragement to the home office staff.”

An indefatigable teacher and student, Sister Mary spent many summers studying or teaching in programs outside the traditional classroom setting. As with many Sisters of her era, Sister Mary completed her bachelor’s degree during summer school. She graduated from St. Joseph College, Rensselaer, Ind, in 1964, then completed a masters in educational administration at the University of Illinois. Her file is replete with documentation for ongoing education and certificate programs—everything from asbestos awareness seminars to assertive discipline classes.

Sister Mary was preceded in death by her parents, her step-mother Caterina Ventura, her sisters Josephine Argento and Frances Argento, and two infant brothers.

She is survived by nieces Nina Engleman and Joann and Phil Marie Argento, nephew Al Argento, and many great nieces and nephews.

Visitation will begin with a gathering ceremony at 3:00 p.m. and conclude at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, Sacred Heart Convent, 1237 W. Monroe St., Springfield. A vigil service will be held at 4:30 p.m. The Funeral Mass follows at 6:30 p.m., Rev. Peter Witchousky, OP, and Rev. Benedykt Pazdan, concelebrants.

Final Commendation and Burial: 10:30 a.m., Friday, April 29, Sacred Heart Convent. Burial follows at Calvary Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dominican Sisters Retirement Fund, 1237 W. Monroe St., Springfield, IL 62704.

7 thoughts on “Sister Mary Ventura, OP: 1928-2016”

  1. Fr Bernard Cotter

    My sincere sympathy to the Springfield Dominicans on the loss of Sister Mary Ventura. She was a great and loyal friend to me during a year spent studying Liturgy at CTU and staying at St Bernadette. Her Golden Jubilee was celebrate around that time. I learned a lot about the Italian Americans from this tough lady! God reward her labours and give her a bed in Heaven with the saints of Italy and America!

  2. Rest in peace Sister Mary Ventua. You were one of the greatest Hunan beings on this earth. Thank you! For all your contributions to all the children. You will always be remembered for all oif the love, care, wonderful experiences and education you gave to all the underprivileged and migrant children. God has an incredible angel in heaven named Sister Mary Ventura.

  3. I am sadden for the loss of Sister Mary Ventura. Sister Mary was an incredible human being who devoted her life, helping, and educating, underprivileged and migrant children. I was one of them, while my grandparents and parents worked as migrant workers, in Mendota, Illinois, Sister Mary and the Dominican Sisters, educated us, provided us with wonderful experiences from taking us to educational field trips to the museums in Chicago to teaching us how to swim, play tennis, how to bowl, and learn many things that otherwise we would of had not been able to learn in a young age. As I became an adult, we stayed in contact and she always sent me a Christmas Card to let be know she was thinking if me and that she had added me to her prayers. Last year she left me a phone message letting me know she was sorry she was not able to send me a Christmas card due to her illness with cancer, but that she still had me in her thoughts prayers. It was heart breaking. I was happy to know that she was very proud of of me and my accomplishments in life. I was glad I was able to give back by contributing financially to help her in her quest to help other children and adults to read and many other things she did to make a difference to others. Thank you, Sister Mary Ventura, and may you rest in eternal peace. God has a new angel. You will always be my hero, and my inspiration.

  4. I had the privilege of having Sister Mary as my fourth grade teacher at St.Bernadette School in Evergreen Park, IL. From the moment I met her, I knew that she was a special lady. This was my first time at a catholic school, coming from public and she knew it. She was nothing short of a miracle. My grades went from… well let’s say VERY Bad to Amazing, in just one quarter. I cherished our times together after I graduated and we spoke frequently as the years went on. Time seems to loose track of itself and we have not talked in many years, but I have always cherished our timely chats and she will be sorely missed. She was the best teacher I ever had and any student that came in contact with her was that much more lucky! She was an amazing person and she made me better just by knowing her. May you rest in peace and sing with the angels.

  5. An extraordinary person. Smart as a whip, so funny, full of energy and love.
    RIP Sister.
    Ann Smith

  6. I had just learned of Sister Mary’s passing. I have always considered myself fortunate to be able to claim a Dominican Nun as a best friend. I first met Sister when she was the Principal of St. Peter’s School in Aurora, Illinois and I was selected to coach basketball at the school. Sister Mary completely impressed me with her compassion for the needy people. She would constantly send my wife to pick up a student who had not made it to school for the day. One of my favorite stories has always been about a man knocked on the convent door and asked Sister if he could borrow $10 because he was in a need. Without any questions she gave him the money with nothing but a promise to return it. She had never seen the man before in her life. She had no use for money just people.
    Sister Mary Ventura was a religious who always practiced what she preached, I wish there were more of this type, The friend who informed my wife and me said that Father Peter told her that if we have to pray for her then most of us don’t have a chance. My prayer list for the living is getting smaller. I feel blessed having been a close friend of Sister Mary Ventura, she was very special.

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