Sister Eileen Schwenk
Current ministry Location – Kingston, NY
Eileen Schwenk was born April 6, 1929 in Kingston, NY to Mary V. (Shine) Schwenk and John Schwenk. She had one sister: Virginia. Eileen graduated from Kingston High School, Kingston in 1947. In 1952 she graduated from Salve Regina College, Newport, RI with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Having received her B.S.in Nursing she credits her experience at Salve Regina for giving her the necessary foundation to live a life of service
Eileen entered Maryknoll at the Sisters Center in NY September 2, 1960 from Kingston, NY. She professed First Vows June 24, 1963 at the Center and Final Vows June 20, 1970 again at the Center. Her first assignment was giving Congregational Service nursing at Bethany, the Maryknoll Sisters Health Care Unit from 1963 – ’65. She received her first overseas mission assignment to the Philippines in 1965.
In 1973 she earned a Certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education from St. Luke’s Hospital, Manila, Philippines. “As a nursing student and a missionary, I had to learn to be self-reliant, deal with emergencies, and adapt to the hardships of living and working in another culture.” Sister Eileen was honored by her own teachers when she was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for her years of service in the health field among the poor in the Philippines.
Sister Eileen also served as a hospital chaplain, a teacher for the International Catholic Migration Commission serving Indochinese refugees, and an assistant nurse trainer. She trained Filipino and Filipina health care workers in immunization programs, primary health care and preventive medicine. She learned from them how to use local herbs and alternative methods such as acupressure and acupuncture. This experience led her to pursue a four-year science program at New York’s Brennan School of Healing, where she was taught different ways of working with energy and received a Diploma in Therapeutic Touch in 1995.
Sister Eileen’s parents, Mary and John Schwenk (both now deceased), were honored in 1996 at their 74th wedding anniversary as the “longest wed Catholic couple in the archdiocese”. Cardinal O’Connor presided at a Mass for them at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and they attended the Lovers Ball, sponsored by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter. Sister Eileen lived with her parents enhancing their quality of life as her father, John, reached 101 years of age and her Mother, Mary, 106.
As a member of our Eastern United States Region, Sister Eileen continues to use her nursing and counseling experience to help friends and neighbors.