“In the Philippines, I learned a great deal about the healing power of alternative health care. In many ways, I feel that I received far more from the Filipino people than I gave.”
Sister Eileen Schwenk entered Maryknoll in 1960 from Kingston, NY. She had received her B.S.N. from Salve Regina College, Newport, R.I., and credits her experience at Salve for giving her the necessary foundation to live a life of service.
“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 other cultures.” 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.
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 John reached 101 years of age and Mary, 106. As a member of our Eastern United States Region, she continues using her nursing and counseling experience to help friends and neighbors.