Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Alumni Obituaries

Fr. Robert Leo Sweeney

Father Sweeney, 85, died at the Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen, Texas.Born in Brackney, Pennsylvania, Father Sweeney was ordained on May 22, 1948 at St. AnneGÇÖs Catholic Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He celebrated the golden anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in 1998. Father Sweeney for years generously and tirelessly brought comfort and blessings to thousands of Valley residents and visitors.During the early years of his priesthood, in addition to parish ministry, he served as chaplain at the Catholic Hospital in Rock Hill. He soon realized how much he enjoyed this challenging and rewarding ministry, and he hoped to have future opportunities to serve the sick and dying as hospital chaplain. Over the years, Father Sweeney felt called to dedicate himself to an area that lacked sufficient priests to minister to the local Catholic population. In 1967, Father Sweeney relocated to the Valley along with two other Oratory priests to serve at St. Joseph the Worker Church in McAllen. Father Sweeney was the first of several Oratorian priests to serve in the Rio Grande Valley. Responding to the needs of his new Diocese, after about a year Father Sweeney relinquished his title as Provost of the Oratory and committed himself to permanent service of the Diocese of Brownsville. He served God's people as pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish for nine years. He was later named pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Brownsville, where he spent about a year and a half before his assignment to St. Paul's Church in Mission, where he served his flock for close to five years. Then in 1984, Father Sweeney accepted the chaplaincy at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, where he once again ministered to the sick and dying. Two years later he was transferred to McAllen, where he served as chaplain simultaneously at both McAllen Medical Center and at Rio Grande Regional Hospital. During these years of full-time service to hospital patients and their families, Father Sweeney continued to celebrate Sunday Mass, the center of all priestly devotions, usually at San Martin de Porres Church in Weslaco. In addition, this seemingly tireless man continued to hear confessions on a regular basis. Despite his official retirement in March 1995 after years of hospital chaplaincy, Father Sweeney continued this special ministry on a part-time volunteer basis as long as his health permitted. Since his youth Father Sweeney has enjoyed athletics, particularly motorcycle riding and snow skiing, but most people who know him will always remember him water skiing. He is survived by his sister Mrs. Marie Sweeney, his brothers, Walter J (Jane) Sweeney and Charles (Dorothy) Sweeney, and numerous nieces and nephews.Information obtained online from the Diocese of Brownsville, http://www.cdob.org