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.