Someone You Should Know: A Man of Ministry
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – When a Methodist from Wisconsin made a leap of faith and became a Catholic, he never dreamed how far it would take him.
He became a Priest who would eventually serve all of eastern South Dakota. Bishop Paul Swain reflects on his time as Bishop and we think he’s Someone You Should Know.
For the last 13 years, Paul Swain has been the Bishop of the Sioux Falls Diocese. However, most people don’t know that he didn’t even become Catholic until he was 39-years-old.
“I was kind of a social Methodist but I wasn’t very good. I didn’t pay that much attention. I had a conversion experience,” says Swain.
Before switching to Catholicism, Swain says multiple life experiences led to his conversion, one of which occurred while he was serving during the Vietnam War.
“Over there I became friends with a Vietnamese family who were Catholics and they just wanted their kids to be able to practice the faith. That stuck with me even though I wasn’t Catholic at the time,” says Swain. “It’s unusual for a convert to become a Bishop.”
When Pope Benedict picked Swain to be the Bishop of Sioux Falls, Swain moved to the city and officially became Bishop in 2006.
“I was a priest in the Diocese of Madison in Wisconson at the time,” says Swain.
Swain says one of his favorite memories here is the remodeling of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, a project that was completed in 2011.
“Created this beautiful, spiritual environment and just wonderful to see people kind of be taken aback when you walk in here kind of lifted up. So that’s a real pleasure to have done that,” says Swain.
A focal point of his ministry is leading church services.
“Certainly the highlight of any priest’s life is celebrating mass and acting as an instrument of Jesus Christ. It’s a real privilege and kind of humbling,” says Swain.
A privilege that he’s preparing to hand off to someone else.
Since all Bishops are required to retire on their 75th birthday, Swain turned in his letter of resignation after turning 75 last September. However, because Pope Francis hasn’t chosen a new Bishop for the Sioux Falls Diocese yet, Swain continues to serve and has a few words of wisdom for whoever the Pope chooses.
“Well I think like any of us you need to know, get to know the people, get to know the history, get to have an understanding what’s happening in the outside world from the church, you know, people’s lives,” says Swain.
After retiring, Bishop Swain plans to stay in Sioux Falls and hopes to minister to people at the Veteran’s Hospital.