Fr Joseph J. McSweeney

Fr Joseph J. McSweeney was born on 14 March 1933 at Bealick, Macroom, Co Cork.

His parents were Jeremiah and Ellen Long McSweeney. He is survived by his brothers Daniel McSweeney and his wife Ann, Peter McSweeney and his wife Mary of Canada, and many nieces and nephews.  He was the brother of the late Patrick, Timmy, John, and Tommy McSweeney.

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 Co Meath in the autumn of 1952. Bishop Kyne of Meath ordained him to the priesthood on 21 December 1958.

In January 1959, he was appointed to Korea and began language school toward the end of that year in Seoul.

In June 1960, Joe was appointed to Chunchon Vicariate as assistant in St Patrick’s parish, Chunchon (Soyangro).

November 1961 saw him as assistant in the Cathedral parish, Chunchon (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In November 1962 he returned as assistant in St Patrick’s parish Chunchon.

In August 1962, he began an advanced language course at Seoul. In August 1964, he went to Samchok as assistant.

In June 1965 Samchok 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 a new parish called Hwangji or Tji Kangwondo. In March 1968, he opened a doctrine hall in a convent in Hoangji and in October of that same year he began a catechetical course in the Philippines. From 1969 to 1971 he was pastor in Samchok, Wonju diocese.

After vacation he was assigned to the US Region for promotion work and attached to the Milton house in July 1971.

In November 1973, he was transferred for promotion work to St Columban’s, Bayside, NY.

He began a renewal course in Maryknoll in January 1981. After the course he returned to the Bayside house.

Joe went with the move of the Columban house in New York City from Bayside to Kew Gardens. In addition to his promotion work, he offered 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 at the Korean parish in Chicago.  In June 1990, he became Vicar at the Kew Gardens house. After Fr Ernie Sullivan left the Kew Gardens house in the fall of 1991, Joe became the Superior there until he went to Bristol in the spring of 1992.

He was appointed to do Mission Education and Promotion. He helped throughout Rhode Island at many parishes, schools and religious communities including the RI Korean Catholic Community.  Fr 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 Fr Joe would set up a Mission Booth there and could be seen in colourful attire “meeting and greeting one and all.”

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

Fr 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.