Vocation Stories


Sr. Redempta Sweeney, IHM

My vocation story began in a very Irish, Catholic setting where daily Mass during Lent and May was a given and love for the rosary and attendance at Redempta SweeneyCatholic school were both highly valued. I was extremely blessed to have my IHM Sisters for twelve years of grade and high school and also for my piano, organ and bass fiddle lessons. In high school we had a very advanced academic program with four years of math, science, languages (Latin and French) and all the other subjects. Membership in the orchestra, forensic club and chorus prepared me well for our IHM love for the arts.

Without my even knowing it, the beautiful spirit and charism of the IHM Congregation attracted me and instilled in me a great love of God. Their joy and fidelity to their mission led me to join the sacred heart club which provided an opportunity for young women who were interested in religious life or thought that they might be called to pray about a vocation. One of the sisters in seventh grade had told the class that if God were calling you to religious life and you did not respond, you could risk being really happy in life. I wanted to be happy and I did feel in the depths of my being that God was calling me. In the 1950's if you entered a religious community you were aware that leaving home meant that your visits home would occur only at the death of a parent or a sibling so this would entail a great sacrifice and letting go. I was one of seven children and the second youngest and we were a very close family. We were not very, very poor but my father was a laborer and we lived from one paycheck until the next. Through family life I learned what real love, sacrifice, generosity within and to the wider community meant. It seemed that we were always welcoming in some member or groups of family in need through the depression or my brothers' friends when they returned from the war. By the way, my father served in WWI and I had three brothers in WWII. In May of my senior year, Sr. St. Anthony, who resides at OLP, and is a wonderful role model for me still, put the question to me as to what I would be doing after high school and my response, without any hesitation, was that I wanted to enter religious life. Having had the IHM Sisters for twelve years there was no doubt that I would be entering the IHM Congregation.

Two events have stayed in my heart and mind since high school. One was a visit to Marywood to join with other IHM High Schools and their orchestras. I was a sophomore and my father had been having heart problems so we did not have the money for me to go. My piano and bass teacher Sr. Anne Teresa McCardle called and spoke to the pastor, Fr. Thomas A. Sullivan, who paid for me to take the eleven hour bus trip from Pittsburgh to Scranton. This was not a coincidence but part of God's great plan for me to experience the IHM spirit and charism up close. The second event took place on a Good Friday when my mother took us to the parish church for the three hours of silence and prayer to honor Christ in his suffering and death. A Passionist priest was preaching the seven last words from the cross and I realized in a very powerful way just how much Jesus loved me and I was overwhelmed once again. Those two events drew me to know in a very special way that God was calling me. Of course, I resisted leaving home and all that it would entail, a steady boyfriend and all the other trappings that life puts before a young, eighteen year old girl. When I reflect on this very great grace that I received at that time, I am overwhelmed at how God is with us every step of the way and how very important example is as I came to know it from my parents, my siblings, and my beloved IHM Sisters.

On September 7, 1955, I traveled to Scranton with my parents, who were both very supportive, my sister, Maureen and my brother, Bob, who is with God, and my very dear friend Sr. Monique Dissen. We connected in our senior year and we have remained very close since that time. On September 8, we arrived at the front door of the old motherhouse and entered the IHM Congregation. After 55 years of religious life, I love my vocation more and more and convey that to the nearly 1300 students that I ministered to in pastoral care at St. Mark's High School in Wilmington, Delaware. For all that has been, I give praise and thanks to God and for all that still is to be, I say in the spirit of our holy mother, "YES"!!!

Sister Redempta currently serves as a spiritual director in Bear, DE.

Redempta Group Installation 2014

Pictured L - R: Sister Redempta, Mona Griffer, Mary Ann Fedrick, and Lois Draina