Paul J. Swain

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His Excellency, The Most Reverend
Paul Joseph Swain
Bishop of Sioux Falls
Church Catholic Church
Archdiocese Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Diocese Sioux Falls
Appointed August 31, 2006
Installed October 26, 2006
Predecessor Robert Carlson
Ordination May 27, 1988
by Cletus F. O'Donnell
Consecration October 26, 2006
by Harry Joseph Flynn, Robert James Carlson, and William Henry Bullock
Personal details
Born (1943-09-12) September 12, 1943 (age 73)
Newark, New York
Alma mater
Styles of
Paul Joseph Swain
Coat of arms of Paul Joseph Swain.svg
Reference style
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop

Paul Joseph Swain (born September 12, 1943) is the current bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls.[1][2]

Early life, career, and priesthood[edit]

Paul Joseph Swain was born on September 12, 1943 in Newark, New York to William and Gertrude (née Mohr) Swain. He attended public schools throughout his childhood, and graduated from high school in 1961. He continued his education at Ohio Northern University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in history in 1965, and University of Wisconsin–Madison, earning a Master of Arts in political science in 1967.[3] Following graduate school, he joined the United States Air Force as an intelligence officer, eventually serving in Vietnam and being awarded the Bronze Star. He got out of the service in 1972.[4] Moving back to Madison, he received a Juris Doctor from University of Wisconsin Law School in 1974. After serving in private practice for a few years, he was Legal Counsel and Director of Policy for Wisconsin Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus from 1979 to 1983.[3]

It was during his time with the governor that Swain, a Methodist, became interested in the Roman Catholic Church. He began reading and attending Mass and was formally received into the Catholic Church in 1983 at Holy Redeemer Parish in Madison.[5] He had his priestly formation at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary, earning a Master of Divinity in 1988. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Madison on May 27, 1988 at Cathedral of St. Raphael by Bishop Cletus O'Donnell.[3] After ordination, he held a number of parochial assignments and was Assistant to the Bishop, Vice Chancellor, Moderator of the Curia, Vocations Director. Pope John Paul II named Swain a Prelate of Honor, giving him the title of "Monsignor".[6] At the end of his tenure in the Diocese, he was Rector of the Cathedral of St. Raphael and Vicar General.

On March 14, 2005, while Swain was serving at Saint Raphael's Cathedral, the cathedral was set on fire by an arsonist. Swain met with the man who had admitted burning the cathedral to offer forgiveness. Swain said, "As soon as I learned it was arson, I just couldn't believe somebody would do that, unless the person were troubled, and so I never really had any bitterness. I honestly believe from other aspects of my life that God uses these moments that seem tragic to deepen our faith and to call us to be more profoundly who we are."[7]


On August 31, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Swain the eighth Bishop of Sioux Falls, which would fill a see that had been empty since Bishop Robert Carlson was appointed Bishop of Saginaw in 2004.[8] He was consecrated bishop on October 26, 2006 at Cathedral of St. Joseph by Archbishop Harry Flynn of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, with Bishops Robert Carlson of Saginaw and William Bullock of Madison served as co-consecrators.[9] His episcopal motto is "Give Praise to the Lord".[10] A member of the Knights of Columbus and Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Bishop Swain serves on the board of directors for both Blessed John XXIII National Seminary and Saint Paul Seminary.[4]

See also[edit]


Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Robert Carlson
Bishop of Sioux Falls