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Published: Friday, 1/3/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

Sister Mary Jane Cosentino; 1918-2013: Scholarly Ursuline nun achieved science honors

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sister Mary Jane Cosentino. Sister Mary Jane Cosentino.
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Sister Mary Jane Cosentino, who was a college graduate and public school teacher before she entered the Ursuline convent in Toledo, died Monday in the Ursuline Center. She was 95.

She had heart and other health problems, said Sister Kathleen Padden, but continued to volunteer until about six months ago at St. Ursula Academy, where she taught for 40 years until 2004.

“She was very community minded and willing to go out of her way to do things for people,” Sister Kathleen said.

Sister Mary Jane, who was chairman of the science department, received wider recognition as well. Within a decade of her start at St. Ursula, she'd been awarded grants for graduate study, and her students were regulars in district, state, and national science competitions.

In 1973, at an event sponsored by the Ohio Academy of Science, she was named outstanding science teacher in northwest Ohio. The National Association of Biology Teachers chose her as outstanding biology teacher in Ohio for 1978.

She received the 1985 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Youth Science Opportunities. That year, she received the Battelle/​Krecker Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics.

“She deserved every bit of praise she can get,” said her sister, Theresa Enciso, who taught elementary school, received a doctorate, and became an administrator in Arizona.

Sister Mary Jane’s greatest concern was with her students and St. Ursula Academy.

“Whenever you said, ‘That was a wonderful honor — you were honored by the governor or the Catholic Education Association,’ she said, ‘Well, that’s all very well, and I’m glad I have that honor, but I’m glad for the school. The school needs that,’” Sister Kathleen said.

She was born in 1918 to Rose and Joseph Cosentino of Berlin Heights, Ohio. Her father encouraged his children to pursue their education, Mrs. Enciso recalled.

“He expected the best from us,” Mrs. Enciso said. Another sister, Sister Mary Antoinette, 96, entered the Ursuline convent in her teens.

Sister Mary Jane went to Bowling Green State University and received a bachelor of science degree. She taught at Milan High School and Sandusky Junior High School.

But she too felt a calling, a need “to be able to devote her time to her deep faith, and [to be] in an environment where that is fostered,” Mrs. Enciso said.

She entered the Ursuline convent in 1946 from St. Peter Parish in Huron. The next year, she received the name “Sister Rose Angela.” In the late 1960s, the community voted to allow sisters to return to their baptismal names, and she was known as Sister Mary Jane thereafter, Sister Kathleen said.

As a sister, she taught at Rosary Cathedral and St. Thomas Aquinas parishes. She also taught at the former Mary Manse College, St. Gerard High School in Lima, Tiffin Calvert High School, and Lima Central Catholic High School.

Sister Mary Jane had a master’s degree from Purdue University and studied at St. Louis University, Marquette University, Catholic University of America, and the University of Toledo.

She read in her free time — always nonfiction — stayed up on current events and, with the precision of a taxonomist, managed the Ursuline community’s stamp collection.

“She was a scholarly woman,” Sister Kathleen said.

Surviving are her sisters, Sister M. Antoinette Cosentino and Theresa Encisco, and brother, Joseph Cosentino.

Visitation will begin at 3 p.m. today in the Ursuline Center, with a vigil service at 6:30 p.m. The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the center.

Tributes are suggested to the Ursuline Sisters of Toledo.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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