Columban Fr Joseph McSweeney RIP

Fr Joseph Jeremiah McSweeney
(14 March 1933 – 13 September 2018)

Fr Joseph J. McSweeney was born on 14 March 1933 in Bealick, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland. His parents were Jeremiah and Ellen Long McSweeney. He is survived by his brothers Daniel McSweeney and his wife Ann in Ireland, Peter McSweeney and his wife Mary oinCanada and many nieces and nephews.  He was the brother of the late Patrick, Timmy, John, and Tommy McSweeney.

Bealick Mill, Macroom [Wikipedia]

His primary education was at the National School, Macroom from 1940 to 1946. His secondary schooling was at De La Salle College, Macroom, from 1946 to 1952.

He entered St Columban's Seminary, Dalgan Park, Navan, County Meath, in September 1952. Bishop John Kyne of Meath ordained him to the priesthood on 21 December 1958.

In January 1959 Father Joe was appointed to Korea and began language studies toward the end of that year in Seoul. In June 1960 he was appointed to Chuncheon Vicariate as assistant in St Patrick's parish, Soyangro, Chuncheon. November 1961 saw him as assistant in the Cathedral parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Chuncheon. 

Seoyang Bridge over Seoyang River, Chuncheon [Wikipedia]

In November 1962 he returned as assistant in St Patrick's parish, Chuncheon. In August 1962 he began an advanced language course in Seoul. In August 1964 he went to Samcheok as assistant. In June 1965 Samcheok became part of the new diocese of Wonju. He continued as assistant there until he went on vacation in November 1965. 

In November 1966 he became pastor of the new parish of Whangji in the Diocese of Womju. In October 1968 he began a catechetical course in the Philippines. From 1969 to 1971 he was pastor in Samcheok, Wonju diocese.

Samcheok [Wikipedia]

After vacation, in July 1971, he was assigned to the US Region for promotion work out of the Columban house in Milton, Massachusetts. In November 1973 he was transferred for promotion work to St Columban's, Bayside, Queen's, New York City. He began a renewal course in Maryknoll in January 1981. After the course he returned to the Bayside house. 

Father Joe went with the move of the Columban house in Bayside to Kew Gardens, also in Queens. In addition to his promotion work , he celebrated Mass every Friday at a local nursing home. He became involved with a local prayer group and assisted at Pre-Cana Conferences. He also helped out at times with youth group activities in the Korean parish in Chicago.  In June 1990, he became Vicar at the Kew Gardens house. After the late Fr Ernie Sullivan left the Kew Gardens house in the autumn of 1991, Father Joe became the Superior there until he went to St Columban's, Bristol, Rhode Island, in the spring of 1992. 

Statue of St Columban
St Columban's, Bristol, RI, USA

He was appointed to do Mission Education and Promotion.  He helped throughout Rhode Island in many parishes, schools and religious communities including the Rhode Island Korean Catholic Community. Father Joe had a special love for the poor and was always reaching out to those in need. 

The annual Columban Festival in Bristol has been going on for over 70 years.  Each year Father Joe would set up a Mission Booth there and could be seen in colorful attire 'meeting and greeting one and all'.

There was nothing too unusual for Father Joe. One day he gathered many motorcycles at our Bristol residence for a blessing ceremony. Another time he participated in a blessing of the Mount Hope Bridge which connects Bristol to Portsmouth and Newport.

Mount Hope Bridge, Rhode Island [Wikipedia]

Father Joe enjoyed visiting and going out for meals with his friends and Columbans.  But as his health declined, he travelled less and less and spent more time in our residence.  He took up painting and enjoyed it. He lived in our residence until April 2018 when he went to St Elizabeth Nursing Home in Bristol.

He passed peacefully to the Lord on Thursday, 13 September 2018. May he rest in peace.

Ubi Caritas
Setting by Ola Gjeilo (born 1978, Norway)
Pilgrim Mission Choir, Korea

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero(Latin)

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.


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