Ernest S. Sweeney, S.J.

Message from the President 

June 21, 2010

Dear LMU Community,

I am saddened to tell you that Ernest S. Sweeney, S.J., passed away June 18, in Los Gatos, Calif., of complications of heart disease. Father Sweeney was 78.

He was a distinguished scholar, writer and professor of history from 1972 until 2009, when ill health forced him from the classroom. Though always a scholar, his first love was working with students and he kept in close contact with many of them over the years. Ever the optimist, he was a valued counselor for friends and a dedicated Jesuit who lived, as he said, “each day in the hands of the Lord.”

Father Sweeney was born in New York City in 1932, attended Fordham Prep and entered the Society of Jesus in 1950. After theological studies at Woodstock, Md., he was ordained to the priesthood in 1963. Father Sweeney earned his doctorate at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1970, where he was a Fulbright-Hays Fellow.

He was appointed professor of history and academic vice president at the Catholic University of Salta, Argentina, where he worked until 1972, when he came to LMU. But his initial work in Argentina developed into a lifelong interest. Over many summers working there he produced several books and a number of articles centered on church-state issues in Latin America, the Catholic Church in a revolutionary society, the struggle of Latin American women for equality, and how the church’s social justice work impacts Argentine society. Father Sweeney was bilingual and published in English and Spanish.

He is survived by a sister, Rita Reynolds, of Hopewell Junction, N.Y.

A funeral Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated Saturday, July 3, at 9:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Chapel, followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, donations in Father Sweeney’s name may be made to the Jesuit Community Scholarship Fund c/o Alma Vorst, 1 LMU Drive, Suite 2800, Los Angeles, CA, 90045-2659.

We are grateful for the inspiration Father Sweeney brought to so many and we will miss him.


David W. Burcham
Interim President