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Sweeters James

January 15, 2009
Santa Clara, CA

James Sweeters  was born to Carl J. and Julia A. Sweeters September 17, 1925 on an orange ranch in Anaheim California, the fourth of five children. Tough times brought about by the Great Depression took the family to Banning, California when James was 3. There he attended St. Boniface Indian Industrial School, a Catholic institution founded by Katherine Drexel. Most of his fellow students were Morongo and Soboba Indians. At St. Boniface, Sweeters received introduction to the traditions of Catholic religious life, from both the Sisters of St. Joseph and from the Jesuit and Franciscan priests who served there. In 1939 Sweeters began attending the Jesuit-run Loyola High School in Los Angeles as a boarding student, working at the school when not attending classes.

Upon graduating from Loyola High School in 1943, Sweeters went immediately to the Jesuit novitiate in Los Gatos, California where he studied for the prietshood and a career in teaching. After completion of both rigouous academic and spiritual training, Sweeters was ordained into the priesthood as a Jesuit in 1955. Sweeters was assigned to Santa Clara University, where he served as Dean of Students, Vice President for Student Services, and Director of Athletics. He then continued his academic training in Rome, Italy at the Ponitifical Gregorian University, where he received a doctorate degree in 1968. He returned to Santa Clara as a full-time teacher in the Religious Studies Department where he served until his retirement.

In 1978 he was laicized and married Jo Ann Vasquez, his spouse of 30 years. During his tenure at Santa Clara, Sweeters designed and taught new courses such as Eastern Religions, Theology of Non-Violence, and New American Religions. He challenged students by assigning primary readings and giving them opportunities to directly experience various religions.