In Memory

Sister M. Venard Ryan, IHM

April 5, 1916 – October 31, 2009

Sister M. Venard Ryan, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, died on October 30, 2009 at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

She was born on April 5, 1916 in Dunmore, PA; and given the name Agnes Leona. She was the daughter of Patrick J. Ryan and Nellie E. Ryan. Educated in the Dunmore Public Schools, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business education from Bloomsburg University and a Master of Arts degree from Marywood University. She entered the IHM Community on February 2, 1942 and made her temporary profession of vows on August 2, 1944.

Sister Venard served as teacher in various catholic schools – Most Holy Rosary in Syracuse, NY; Saint Mary of the Mount in Pittsburgh, PA; Saint Alphonsus in NY; Bishop Klonowski and Bishop Hannan High Schools both in Scranton, PA.

She is preceded in death by three brothers, Reverend John, Reverend Joseph and William; and a sister, Sister Ann Ryan, IHM.

She is survived by two sisters, Sister Mary, IHM of Scranton and Florence of Clarks Summit; and nieces and nephews.

The funeral will be Monday, November 2, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Peace Residence, 2300 Adams Avenue in Scranton. Interment will be at St. Catherine Cemetery in the Ryan Family Plot, Moscow, Pa. Friends may call at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Sunday, November 1, between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. A prayer service will be held at 4:30 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.

Reprinted from “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Spring 2010 issue

As I write this brief account of Sister Venard’s life, I pray that I will do justice to her, and write as candidly as possible.

For those of you who knew her, I am sure that you would agree with me when I say that she would never have approved of my doing this task. She was a very private person and rarely revealed her personal life to others.

And so I begin by telling you that Agnes Leona was the third child born to Patrick and Nellie McHale Ryan. Four more would follow. She, like all of us, was baptized and received all of the sacraments in St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Church in Dunmore. Her early education was in the Dunmore public schools.

As for her sacramental and prayer life, this all took place at my mother’s knees. Mom taught us our prayers and introduced us to some of her favorite saints. In other words, I would have to say that we all received our vocations in our home setting. God came first! The family rosary was said each evening before any other goings and comings.

After graduation from Dunmore High School, Sister Venard applied for enrollment at Bloomsburg State Teachers College, now Bloomsburg University. She graduated with a major in business education.

At this time the country was involved in World War II, and because so many men went off to war, she was fortunate in obtaining a teaching position in a high school near Philadelphia. She remained in this position for about three years, at which time she felt attracted to the religious life and moved on to an entirely new way of life that, as she herself said “was most rewarding.” She applied for entrance into the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Marywood.

As for her teaching years, I had always heard that she was a superb teacher, and I saw this fact in actuality. She was a demanding teacher, but just and fair in her dealings with students. She could not tolerate seeing a student doing second-class work—she called it: talent wasted.

We often talked about our experiences in teaching, and I learned that her favorite teaching assignment was at St. Alphonsus in New York City. This school, being near Wall Street, gave her students the opportunity to use their business knowledge obtaining jobs. As late as last year she heard from these students who had great jobs on Wall Street, simply because they learned the skills in taking dictation. This pleased her immensely. I also have heard from many of her former students who have spoken so beautifully of her, not only as a teacher of business, but of her influence on their lives with God.

I could write pages about her prayer life and her dedication to our Lord and the Blessed Sacrament. Her prayers and meditation came before all else. Family trips—and there were many—did not interest her, or could never take her away from her convent life of prayer.

Sister Venard always enjoyed excellent health, and never that I can remember did even a cold keep her away from the classroom. This past year, however, was different. She developed a cold and cough that medicines did not seem to touch. So after a few weeks in the CMC, she was allowed to leave the hospital and went directly to Our Lady of Peace Residence. She was not there more than 4 or 5 days when the final day came and she died peacefully. This was the finest moment in her life and the time she had prepared for so diligently. She could honestly say as with John XXIII, “My bags are packed and I am ready to meet my maker.”

“Rest in peace, “Queenie.”

by Sister Mary Ryan, IHM

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