It’s been a profound and humbling privilege to be bishop

It’s been a profound and humbling privilege to be bishop

Bishop Swain's Column, February 2020
This will be my last column in The Bishop’s Bulletin after nearly 14 years. It will not, however, be the last you hear from me as I assume the role of bishop emeritus. I will do so in a way that is supportive of our new bishop, Donald DeGrood, the ninth bishop of Sioux Falls, whom we all welcome with great joy. It has been a profound privilege and a humbling one to be your bishop over these years. They have been years of great pleasure particularly supporting our seminarians, priests, deacons and consecrated, ordaining over 40 priests and permanent deacons, enhancing the role of the laity in our local church, especially youth and young adults, and to just be out and about with all of you who are essential…
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The Lord shines in the darkest of moments

The Lord shines in the darkest of moments

Bishop Swain's Column, January 2020
O come, let us adore Him. In 2005 the more than 150-year-old Cathedral of St. Raphael in Madison, Wisconsin, was set on fire by a troubled soul while I was sleeping in the attached rectory. I rose from bed as usual about 5:30 a.m. and turned on the radio to learn the weather forecast. Instead I heard that a four-alarm fire was blazing at St. Raphael Cathedral which is where I was. I threw on some clothes and went outside to see what was going on, thinking it only a minor disturbance. It was a Monday morning in the university town of Madison where weekend disturbances are routine, so what else was new. I thought maybe there was a fire in the dumpster. What I encountered was new and sad.…
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The entry of God into our lives continues every day

The entry of God into our lives continues every day

Bishop Swain's Column, December 2019
From the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of…
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Be grateful for the blessings we enjoy

Be grateful for the blessings we enjoy

Bishop Swain's Column, November 2019
As I have grown older, November has become among my favorite months even though it is the entryway into winter. That was not always the case. Tailgating before Wisconsin Badger football games in November was not as much fun as on warmer days. But what November has become for me is a time of recognition of our past and raising up for our reflection those who have gone before in whose legacy we are blessed to live. All Saints and All Souls days begin the month, remembering those known and unknown who have shaped the Church, our diocese and parishes, and our personal lives. Knowledge of our history allows us to put into perspective the challenges of our own day. One of the founding fathers of our country, Benjamin Franklin,…
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The right to life is an expression  of who and whose we are

The right to life is an expression of who and whose we are

Bishop Swain's Column, October 2019
When I was in my teens and in the early days of television so long ago, my family like so many, though not Catholic, “religiously” tuned in to then Bishop Fulton Sheen and his “Life is Worth Living” weekly program. It surely influenced me on my spiritual journey, though I clearly was a slow learner. I pray he will soon be formally declared a saint, though he already is to me. This Bulletin’s theme, “Human Dignity: The Ultimate Gift from God,” was a constant theme of these programs. Below is my column from October 2015, which reflects that message and truth: “EVERY Life is Worth Living” is the theme for this year’s Respect Life month. Every life means every person beginning at conception through pregnancy, at birth and all the…
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Affirm your priests, deacons and seminarians

Affirm your priests, deacons and seminarians

Bishop Swain's Column, September 2019
The theme for this month’s Bulletin is “Discerning a Vocation in a Time of Crisis.” Surely these are challenging times for us all, but especially for our priests and seminarians. That a few would betray their promise of chastity and cast a shadow over the vast majority of our brothers is discouraging to say the least, dispiriting and profoundly sad. I encourage those reading these words to affirm and encourage your priests, deacons and our seminarians. The truth is that a vocation, whichever it is, is a call from God through Christ always in the midst of the culture of the day. One reason I recommend studying the history of the Church is to put in perspective the unique cultural challenges of our day. Simply contemplating the Passion of our…
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The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is our Beacon of Hope

The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is our Beacon of Hope

August 2019, Bishop Swain's Column
As I ponder in the twilight days of my privileged time as Bishop of Sioux Falls, naturally I reflect on all that God has blessed me with these 13 years. Surely high among them is the restoration of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, which we rededicated eight years ago this past July 27, and which we share with all through the TV Mass. Below is an edited version of my homily on that joyous day: In our first reading from the Book of Genesis we hear of the dream of Jacob, in which appears a staircase, sometimes called a ladder, connecting heaven and earth with angels going up and down. Jacob encounters the Lord and is moved to exclaim what we might proclaim today, “How awesome is this shrine. This…
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Actions taken by Bishop’s Conference address clergy abuse

Actions taken by Bishop’s Conference address clergy abuse

Bishop Swain's Column, July 2019
At the June meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, major attention was given to strengthening efforts to address clergy child sexual abuse and assuring accountability of bishops. Below is a summary of the meeting including excerpts from a resource prepared by Conference staff which highlights the new policies and procedures we bishops adopted. All were supported overwhelmingly. The Bishops approved three documents related to reporting and investigating claims of abuse or the intentional mishandling of these cases by bishops. Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions of Bishops. It addresses the status of bishops who were removed from office or resigned their office for reasons of sexual abuse or intentional mishandling of cases. Affirming Our Episcopal Commitments. It reaffirms the commitments bishops make to live according to the Gospel,…
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We can and need to return to the mountain top of adoration

We can and need to return to the mountain top of adoration

Bishop Swain's Column, June 2019
A few random thoughts as we move from spring to summer: Weather This was a brutal winter after a beautiful December. In the last few weeks I have been in all corners of our 35,000 square mile diocese, commonly known as East River. I did that also when I first arrived nearly 13 years ago after being ordained and installed as your bishop. The contrast is stark. Then there was severe drought, the land brown, the rivers and streams low. This year in all corners of our diocese standing water is deep and fields saturated interfering with spring planting. Instead of, as we usually do this time of year, praying for rain to nourish the crops, our prayer is for the rains to stop. Many lives will be affected by…
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The importance of prayer at the center of our lives

The importance of prayer at the center of our lives

Bishop Swain's Column, May 2019
As I near the end of my privileged time as Bishop of Sioux Falls I continue to share with you themes that have guided me as reflected in my columns in The Bishop’s Bulletin over the years. Below are two edited columns on the importance of prayer at the center of our lives and the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and uplift us. From the May 2008 edition of The Bishop’s Bulletin: When I was rector of St. Raphael Cathedral in the Diocese of Madison in Wisconsin, my practice was to hear confessions immediately before the 5 p.m. daily Mass, except on Holy Days when additional preparation for the Mass was needed. At the time I was the only priest assigned to three parishes. A notice was…
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