“Looking back over the ten years, we are very proud of the service that has been rendered by all the staff members, and also by all the people who have helped us with the work in HIV/AIDS for the Nyakato Program.” Sister Veronica Schweyen has been on the front line in the battle against the AIDS epidemic.She founded an AIDS outreach program in 1992 in a region where an estimated 15% of the population is infected with the disease.
Sister Veronica Schweyen of Kenmare, North Dakota, entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1963 after having earned her BA in English from St. Scholastica College in Duluth, MN. Sister Veronica spent one summer at Marquette University and Mary Rogers College at Maryknoll, NY. She earned her MS in English from Yeshiva University in New York City. Following this, Sister Veronica (Roni, as she is called) taught at St. Anthony of Padua School in the Bronx, NY, for two years before being assigned to Hawaii in 1968.
In 1970, Sister Veronica was assigned to Tanzania where she studied Swahili in Musoma. She then taught in secondary schools in both Morogoro and Korogwe. In 1973, she headed up a religious education program in Dar es Salaam for two years. Sister Roni then returned to the United States, where she completed coursework at Fordham University.
Returning to Tanzania, she was called to pastoral ministry, and she helped in the formation of basic Christian communities. She also worked with development projects for women in Charjale until 1985. In 1991, Sister Roni moved to Mwanza, where she began pastoral work in the Nyakato parish and started an AIDS outreach program, which in 2004, was turned over to complete local lay administration. Sister Veronica also trained family guardians to care for Tanzania’s youngest, its vulnerable orphans, from the AIDS pandemic.
Back in the United States since 2011, Sister Veronica has joined Maryknoll’s Office for Global Concerns in Washington, D.C.