Biographies

Father Leo W. Sweeney, MM

Born: August 11, 1902
Ordained: June 13, 1926
Died: August 26, 1944

Leo W. Sweeney was born on August 11, 1902 in New Britain, Connecticut After graduating from St. Mary’s Parochial School there, he was just thirteen years old when he climbed Sunset Hill for the first time to be welcomed by Father Price on the porch of the old seminary. He was among the first group of students sent to the Venard in 1916. He was ordained on June 13, 1926 by Bishop Gauthier. In September of that year he departed for his mission in Korea.

Father Sweeney spent most of his sixteen years in Chinnampo where he was very successful in conversion work, with well over four hundred baptisms yearly in the period before World War II. He also had charge of an old folks’ home and a primary school with over 1300 pupils. In addition his dispensary cared for those who were too poor to go elsewhere for medical attention. In 1936 he was elected a delegate to the General Chapter at Hong Kong. At the outbreak of war he was interned by the Japanese and repatriated on the Gripsholm in 1942.

During his years of successful mission work in Korea Father Sweeney proved exceptionally able, prudent and apostolic in the administration of his parish and in his relations with others. The articles he wrote for The Field Afar show how he knew and loved his people. He was considered by his superiors to be the best student of the spoken language among the missioners in Korea.

After returning to America Father Leo worked in helping out at churches in Bremerton, Washington and in St. John’s in Seattle. It was while home at New Britain for a vacation that death struck suddenly on August 26, 1944.

A Solemn Requiem Mass was offered in his home parish in New Britain on the 29th and the body was brought to Maryknoll for funeral and burial.