Obituary: Father Frederick E. Sweeney, former pastor in Haverhill

byFather Robert M. O'Grady Pilot Staff

Father Frederick E. Sweeney Pilot file photo

Merrimack Regional Bishop Robert Hennessey was the principal celebrant of the funeral Mass at St. Bridget Church, Framingham on March 12 for Father Frederick E. Sweeney who died at Sancta Maria Nursing Home in Cambridge on March 6.

Father Sweeney was born in Worcester (then still part of the Springfield diocese) Oct. 4, 1927, one of the three children of the late Frederick and Mary (Henry) Sweeney. He was raised in St. Stephen Parish, Framingham and was an alumnus of Sacred Heart High School, Newton. The parish's pastor was auxiliary Bishop Richard Cushing who, having become Boston's archbishop in 1944, would on January 10, 1952 ordain Father Sweeney to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral.

His ordination followed studies at St. John's Seminary and his first assignment as an assistant was to St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in Cambridge where he served until 1954. Over the next 14 years he would serve as an assistant or associate in four archdiocesan parishes: St. Michael, Lowell (1956-1965); St. Timothy, Norwood (1965-1966); St. Vincent de Paul, South Boston, (1966-1969) and St. Pius Fifth, Lynn (1969-1970).

From Lynn he moved a few miles north to Danvers, where from 1970 to 1976 he served as chaplain at St. John Preparatory School and at Danvers State Hospital.

In 1976 he was named pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Dracut and on completion of that assignment he was granted a sabbatical renewal program in early 1987. In 1988 he served as parochial vicar at St. Alphonsus Parish in Beverly, just before he was named pastor at St. John the Baptist Parish in Haverhill. His almost 14 year pastorate ended in 2003 and he was granted senior priest status in 2004.

In retirement he lived in York, Maine and was, as his health permitted, a regular assistant in the seasonally busy parishes in Maine's coastal vacation town.

With his declining health, he required more care and moved to Sancta Maria Nursing Home in Cambridge, where he died on March 6.

Among the concelebrants were the homilist Father Robert Murray, pastor of St. James Parish and St. John the Baptist Parish, both in Haverhill; St. Bridget Parish Msgr. Francis V. Strahan; and West Regional Vicar Father Brian R. Kiely.

Following his funeral Mass Father Sweeney was buried in St. Stephen Cemetery, Framingham.