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Sister Marian Sweeney

The Librarian

Sister Marian Sweeney who hails from Bernard, Iowa, lived on a farm and delighted in a one-room school education through grade eight. In her high school days, Sister Marian attended St. Columbkille in Dubuque staying with her aunt and cousins during the week, returning to her family on the weekends. Her dad was an Irish farmer and her mother a homemaker. Sister is the oldest of two brothers and one sister. After graduation, she joined the Presentation sisters “up the hill” from St. Columbkille on September 8, 1949. Sister Marian received her bachelor’s degree in History from Clarke College in Dubuque and a master’s degree in Library Science from Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois.

Sister taught in various schools in Iowa; Winner, South Dakota, and St. Paul, Minnesota, teaching every grade with the exception of grade eight. Sister served as the librarian in St. Paul, at Newman High School in Mason City, Bishop Garrigan High School in Algona and Wahlert High School in Dubuque. To feed and savor her passion for reading, she made many trips across the famous Music Man Bridge in Mason City to the public library. “Marian, the librarian” became one of her many claims to fame.

Quoting classmate, Sister Joan Lickteig, “One of Marian’s best gifts is her love for books. And what a reader she is! As a result she’s an excellent conversationalist. She is at her best when she’s sharing a favorite work or summarizing a story; her voice reveals her pleasure and her delight is contagious. I want to rush right into the library and check out her latest favorite.”

When Sister Marian came to Dubuque on July 1, 1999, she did not “retire” as such. Sister continued to minister in the Mount Loretto library and archives. Her research and generous sharing of the early history of the community has been a delight to the sisters.

Sister Dolores Zieser speaks from experience about Sister Marian’s love for travel. “Sister Marian could be called a world traveler. She has traveled far and wide across the United States and Europe with her Presentation sisters, family and friends. Ask Marian about any place in the world, and she can probably tell you some of its history.”

Sister Marian’s appreciation of art history has taken her to Chicago to see the Vatican Art exhibit and to the Minneapolis Art Institute to view the work of Grant Wood. She also enjoys sewing for herself and doing mending for other sisters. Sister delights in a good game of cards, crossword and jigsaw puzzles and crafts.

Always up for a good laugh, Sister Marian appreciates the humor of others, as well. When asked, “How do you see yourself following in Nano’s footsteps,” Sister quipped, “Nano didn’t live to old age!”

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