Sister Mary Aloysius Swift

Mary Swift
1855 - 1888

On this day we commemorate the death of our beloved and much lamented Sister Mary Aloysius, who departed this life September, 20, 1888, at the early age of thirty-three years and in the seventeenth of her Religious life. 

Mary Ann Swift was admitted to the Novitiate before she had attained her sixteenth year, on the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, and well and faithfully did she devote herself, from the beginning, to the duties of her high and holy calling.

Her tender age preserved her from any knowledge of the world and its vanities, and her vocation was so strongly marked that Superiors did not hesitate as time passed to admit her to the Holy Habit, and at the term of probation to her Religious Profession, the obligations of which she sacredly observed to the end. She assumed the name of the angelic Saint Aloysius and labored faithfully to imitate his virtues.

Of an amiable disposition, naturally bright and cheerful, she made herself all to all. Her happy smile brought sunshine wherever it beamed and her influence, even with those, many years her senior, was remarkable.

Though childlike in manner she was discreet to a surprising degree, and the confidence given her was sacredly kept. She was remarkable for her faithful observance of Rule, and though blessed with a very sweet temper, those of intimate acquaintance knew that she conquered by grace in many a struggle against nature.

She was not robust, nor of vigorous constitution, still she labored generously in the service of the poor, whom she tenderly loved, and as opportunities were given her she improved in the finer works, adapted to her strength.

She was ready with the pen, and skillful with the needle. Her refined taste enabling her to turn her industry to profit in fine embroideries, in the decoration of the altars and in the numberless details of exquisite workmanship which women’s fingers can execute, especially when the spirit of God inspires the patient laborer.

She was skillful too in the duties of the Pharmacy while her kind and winning ways made her ever a welcome visitor in the sick room. In fact it is safe to say that it was never known that Sister Mary Aloysius was too crowded with work to attend to any demand on her time and kindness. No one was repulsed by her, and any student of human nature knows that there is no one who does not feel at times irritation of temper, but with her it was ever kept in control.

The Community knew they would not long possess the treasure of this amiable subject. From early years she gave evidence of a weak constitution, an inclination to consumption and this was increased by weakness in the digestive organs. Every care was taken to employ her in duties compatible with her strength. She filled for five years the responsible office of Mistress of Novices together with that of General Secretary and in this latter her work remains as a model to those who will succeed her.

She was sent as Superior of the mission at Holyoke, and for a germ of eleven months discharged the duties of that office in a most acceptable manner endearing herself to her sisters by her gentle but firm government, and edifying all, by her religious virtues.

The General Elections held in 1884, was the occasion of her return to the Mother House, when she was elected second Assistant and Secretary. At this time there was a marked decline in her health and no care or vigilance on the part of the Community could stay the progress of the fatal disease, slowly but surely she wasted before them.

She was fully conscious of her failing health, and by her cheerful resignation she seemed to welcome the hour of release from life’s burdens. The same sweetness of temper, the same devotion to duty, the same thoughtfulness to others, the same peace-loving spirit animated her to the end. During the years that she held the office of second Assistant and Secretary she was a great comfort to the Superior.

When the duty of governing the House devolved upon her in the temporary absence of the Superior General and the first Assistant, she dealt with the Sisters in her usual harmonious manner, sweetly enforcing regular observance and accommodating herself to the dispositions of all.

She had wonderful discretion and tact for one of her years, but it was the spirit of religion which enabled her to discharge so well, every duty of her holy calling.

Her health began to decline very visibly in the spring of 1888, and none could be blind to the fact that her days were numbered. Her sufferings were great but borne uncomplainingly. She, who was the very spirit of gayety, was not cast down by the thought of death. Hers had always been a joyous heart, and in her heavenly country there would be the perfection of happiness.

One wish to live and that an unselfish one, was sacrificed to the Divine Will. It would have been a comfort to have closed in death, the eyes of her only surviving parent, her aged and saintly father, but such was not to be, and she submitted with the same childlike loving sweetness that made her resemble from the first her angelic patron Saint Aloysius.

Our beloved Sister rests in St. Mary’s Cemetery. There her mortal remains await the resurrection call, but we know her spirit pleads for the welfare of her beloved Community and she continues to favor its prosperity, for her power with her Divine Spouse must be great. Blessings attended her even here, and can we doubt that her intercession will be less powerful now that she in admitted to the courts of the just, for of that beatitude her pure angelic life is a positive pledge.