Father Gabriel Sweeney, C.P., Holy Cross Province (1892-1963)

Home / Biography / Father Gabriel Sweeney, C.P., Holy Cross Province (1892-1963)

Born Richard J. Sweeney on April 20, 1892 on Mount Adams, Cincinnati, Ohio, he was the son of John Sweeney and Agnes Hammons. He was baptized in Holy Cross Church and was educated in Holy Cross school from which he graduated in 1906. After graduation from grade school, at the age of 14, he entered the Passionist Preparatory Seminary at St. Mary’s, Dunkirk, New York. In 1907 he was sent to the new novitiate of Holy Cross Province (begun in 1906) at Sacred Heart Retreat, Louisville, Kentucky. He professed his vows on May 24, 1908. His religious name was Gabriel. Studies for the priesthood were conducted in Cincinnati, Normandy, Missouri, and St. Paul, Kansas. He was ordained on June 13, 1915 in St. Francis Church in St. Paul. His first assignment was as vice-master of novices. He began that position on the Feast of St. Gabriel in 1917. He remained there in that capacity for about six months and then was transferred to Chicago, Illinois where he was professor of philosophy. During the course of this assignment he also did occasional ministry as a preacher of Forty Hours and retreats to Sisters. But for the most part his time was spent teaching philosophy, theology and sacred scripture. In the fall of 1926 Father Sweeney was sent to the Holy Land to study sacred scripture at the L’Ecole Biblique which was operated by the Dominicans. After one year in Palestine he was then called back to the United States. Two years later, he was sent to the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio where he was one of the first priests to study Hebrew. For several years after that he continued to teach sacred scripture in the Passionist seminary. When his teaching career was over he was sent to the new Passionist foundation in Citrus Heights, California to do some parish work. After several years there he went to southern California and resided in Sierra Madre where he was associate retreat director of the Laymen’s Retreat League for a number of years. In 1959 Father Sweeney was assigned to Holy Cross Retreat, Cincinnati to assist with the Laymen’s Retreat P:rogram there. He held that office into 1961 when his health began to fail. On occasion members of the community found him unconscious in his room. This led to some time in St. Mary’s Hospital. As this illness continued it became obvious to him that the time of death was near. In his last days the members of the community continued to pray for his peaceful death which indeed he did have. He died at St. Mary’s Hospital.