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Société des Missions Africaines –Province des Etats-Unis

sweeney sean  Le Père Seán SWEENEY
né le 1er avril 1909 à Mayfield
dans l'archidiocèse de Tuam, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 10 juin 1933
prêtre le 10 juin 1934
décédé le 9 décembre 1999

1934-1937 missionnaire au Nigeria, Côte du Bénin
1938-1939 Wilton, professeur
1939-1952 Washington, séminaire Reine des Apôtres, professeur
1941-1951 conseiller, dans le 1er conseil provincial US
1952-1968 Dedham, séminaire Reine des Apôtres, professeur
1968-1973 Dedham, séminaire, supérieur
1973-1975 Tenafly, vice provincial
1976-1977 Dedham, directeur spirituel
1977-1991 Dedham, membre du staff
1991-1998 semi retiré, aumôneries
décédé le 9 décembre 1999, à l'âge de 90 ans

Father John P. Sweeney (1909 – 1999)

John P. Sweeney was born in Mayfield, Claremorris, Ireland, in the parish of Crossboyne, Co Mayo, Ireland, on April 1, 1909.
He died in Castle McGarrett Nursing Home, Co Mayo, on December 9, 1999.

John (Sean) Sweeney was one of nine children born to James and Catherine (nee Scahill) Sweeney. Sean attended the local national school in Claremorris for his elementary schooling (1914-1920). He then commenced his secondary education. Leaving school when he reached intermediate level to work on the family farm. His family had hoped he would become a teacher. In 1927, at the age of 18, he entered the Society's preparatory college, at Ballinafad, Co Mayo, where mature students were introduced to the Society and received classes in Latin. Sean joined the Society's Novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in September 1928. He received his theological formation in the Society's major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, between 1930-1934. Sean became a member of the Society on July 2 1930. He was ordained a priest in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, on June 10, 1934. He was one of a group of seventeen ordained on that day.

After ordination Sean was appointed to the Vicariate of Western Nigeria, where he was assigned to Asaba mission. Next he taught at St. Thomas’ Teacher Training College, in Ibusa. After some years he became Supervisor of Catholic Schools for the Vicariate, a most responsible position which required him to deal with the colonial education department and to ensure that schools were of sufficient standard to obtain vital state subsidies. In 1937 illness forced his recall to Ireland. After a period of rest he was appointed to the staff of Ballinafad, teaching there until February 1939. Months before the Second World War erupted Sean was assigned to assist in preparing the SMA’s American branch – staffed by confreres drawn from the Alsatian and Irish Provinces - for Provincial status. Others selected at this time to go to America included Anthony McAndrew, Patrick O’Hara and John Prendergast. One of the prerequisites for a Province was a proper training and formation program for its students. Sean was appointed to teach in the seminary of the new Province (it was erected in March 1941), Our Lady Queen of Angels, which was opened in Silver Spring, Maryland.) When that location was burned in a fire Sean worked on in a newly donated site in Washington, DC, and while there, attended the Catholic University where he received an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics.

During the six years Sean spent in Washington, in addition to his other duties; he edited the Province’s newsletter, The African Angelus. His next assignment was to the Province’s philosophical seminary at Dedham, Mass. He was to spend six years here, as superior (1958-1964). He also became editor of the Frontline Report as the Provincial newsletter was now known. In 1958 he was elected vice-Provincial of the American Province, serving two terms of five years each in this important position. The formation of students preparing for ordination had absorbed Sean’s priesthood for most of his years in the USA. In order to keep himself abreast of the development of the Church in Africa, he returned to Nigeria in 1964. He was positively amazed at the progress that had taken place during his 18 year absence. He was especially impressed by the large numbers of indigenous clergy. In 1968, no longer superior, Sean was appointed confessor and spiritual director at Queen of Apostles, Dedham, with the additional portfolio or seminary bursar. In 1973 he was re-assigned as Superior of Tenafly, where the Provincial Administration was located. Five years later he returned to Dedham as Spiritual Director of the seminary.

Sean was a man of many parts. In 1969 he initiated classes in the Irish language at Harvard University. He was also a founding member of Cuman Na nGaelige in Boston. Keenly interested in pastoral issues, he served as chaplain of The Little Way Mission Band, and participated in a Dedham based prayer group dedicated to St. Theresa of Lisieux. In 1975 Sean took sabbatical leave in Ireland, during which he studied mission theology at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Sean celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood in 1984. He retired from the active ministry in 1991 and was living in Ireland at the time of his death. He was survived by three brothers and one sister. He had an Aunt who was a Franciscan sister at Allegheny.

He is buried with his parents in Balinasmall Cemetery, near Claremorris, Co. Mayo.