Archive for the ‘Bishop Paul Joseph Swain’ Category

Confirmation Class Photo

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

The Sacrament of Confirmation was administered by His Excellency, the Most Rev. Paul J. Swain, Bishop of Sioux Falls on Wednesday evening, February 15th:

Back row left to right:  Rylee Klinkhammer, Cole Grasma, Stephan Oyen, Collin Kolbeck, Hunter Schmeichel, Colin Reif.    2ndrow left to right:  Emily Bies, Christy Eich, Emma Norris, Faith Oyen, Melissa Lauck, Kobe Doane.  3rd row left to right:  Parker Scheier, Rachel Krier, Sarah Wegener, Sarah Krempges, Summer Schoon, Jayden Wolf, Blake Gessner, Father Martin E. Lawrence. Front row left to right:  Aleah Ries, McKenna Kranz, Katie Reif, Bishop Paul J. Swain, and Tayler Reif.

Fortnight for Freedom: June 21st – July 4th

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016


Here at home, the persecution is more subtle but growing

By the Most Rev. Paul J. Swain – Bishop of Sioux Falls

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which includes me, ask us to raise up once again in prayerful concern the serious threats to religious liberty during a Fortnight for Freedom. The theme this year is “Witnesses to Freedom.” It begins on June 21 and concludes on the Fourth of July. We will do so at a Holy Hour on June 28 in the Cathedral at 7 p.m.

Pope Francis has noted “A Church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile; like a dead person who thinks they are alive; like a dried up tree that produces no fruit; an empty well that offers no water! The Church has overcome evil thanks to the courageous, concrete and humble witness of her children. She has conquered evil thanks to proclaiming with conviction: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

The horror of persecution of Christians around the world is breathtaking and tear making. It has resulted in thousands of lives lost and millions displaced. Let us pray for them and support those Church agencies which seek to provide physical assistance and are witnesses of hope that comes with faith in Jesus Christ.

Here at home the persecution is more subtle but growing on many fronts. We are called to be witnesses to religious freedom in the public square including for whom we vote and standing up for our rights especially in the workplace and institutional settings.

In addressing this threat we do so not as partisans who seek political influence, nor as a special interest which seeks favors, nor as those seeking profit. We do so as disciples of Jesus Christ who seek to follow his directive to first love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, and then our neighbor as our self.

One journalist wrote that we Christians are now exiles in our own country. Even if true, we must make clear that we have not left our country and that we will stand up for our God-given rights to religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

As we do so we pray for those who reject faith and those including some government officials, corporate powers and ideological zealots who view believers as old-fashioned, as pests, and even as enemies. We pray for their conversion and changed hearts. We do so not as victims but with the hope that comes from knowing that our Lord has overcome the world; not as adversaries but as evangelists who seek to share the joy of Christ with all; not as dividers but as healers, as instruments of Christ’s invitation to fullness of life in Him.

As we face disagreements and hostility we must do so with civility, compassion, forgiveness but also with courage. We ought not forsake Christ for popularity or paper peace. Our souls and the souls of those who touch our lives and those whose lives we touch are on the line.

It is within that context we approach this continuing threat. Thus we recognize the rule of law in our country to which we owe respect; we also recognize the law of God to which we owe obedience. While respecting civil law generally we cannot disown God’s law.

What are God’s laws that we must defend and are threatened in today’s culture? They include:

  1. the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, and respecting all persons in the years in-between,
  2. the family unit as the basis on which a stable society is grounded
  3. marriage as intended by God which is the union of one man and one woman open to children
  4. the responsibility to feed the hungry, comfort the sick and welcome the stranger in ways consistent with the teachings of Christ, and
  5. recognizing that God is the creator and we are his creatures subject to his natural laws rejecting ideologies that center on ourselves as little gods.

The fact is that we now are surrounded by a culture that essentially rejects the presence of God and our need for God.

Pope Francis noted this trend: “When in the name of an ideology, there is an attempt to remove God from society, it ends up adoring idols, and very soon men and women lose their way, their dignity is trampled and their rights violated.”

One spiritual advisor noted that there are three pagan gods being worshipped today in our country: the god of economics, the god of politics, and the god of entertainment. Each has its narrow and self-centered agenda which it seeks to impose upon us all. The frightening reality today is that they have come together to bully and subjugate those of us who worship the true God. Thus by threats of boycotts, by ruthless imposition of government regulations and by the media saturation with sordid and unseemly images, they seek to drown religious freedom.

What is on the horizon that may restrict our religious liberty and freedom of conscience? That threat includes the use of government regulations to force individual believers and Catholic institutions to violate moral truth such as the mandate to provide drugs that cause abortions. They include the use of government to force employing in Catholic schools and other institutions those who reject in word or action Christ’s teaching.

They include efforts to punish faith-affirming speech as harassment or discriminatory or bigoted hate speech. They include efforts to restrict or withhold accreditation and licenses unless our beliefs are compromised. They include prohibiting government grants and contracts and tax-exemptions in order to limit our outreach ministries by which we live our baptismal call to serve all, Catholics and not.

They include using law suits as time-devouring weapons or to bully settlements that weaken financial support for Church ministries. They include intimidating small business owners to violate their consciences or face going out-of-business. The list could go on.

We clergy, consecrated and lay, must recommit to defending the free exercise of religion and of speech from hostile judges, government regulators, legislative bodies at all levels, corporate boards and media moguls. In that ministry we will be good citizens and persons of charity, but with the motto ever in our hearts, as St. Thomas More, another witness and martyr for the faith, put it, “I am the King’s good servant but God’s first.”

Confirmation 2015 in the Extraordinary Form

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

On the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Paul J. Swain, Bishop of Sioux Falls, came out to Saint Mary’s Church in Salem to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form to twelve of our young people who attend the weekly 12 Noon Sunday Mass in Latin. Following the Rite of Confirmation, His Excellency remained for the Missa Cantata celebrated by the Pastor, the Reverend Martin E. Lawrence.

 [Photos courtesy of parishioner Sherry Stoffel] 

The Online Photo Gallery:
(includes over 200 photos)

St. Mary’s Confirmandi 2013

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

The St. Mary’s Parish Confirmation class of 2013 was confirmed on Sunday, February 9th, 2014 at The Cathedral of St. Joseph in Sioux Falls, along with St. Michael’s Parish of Sioux Falls. His Excellency, Bishop Paul Joseph Swain presided over the Holy Mass, as well as conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation upon all the confirmandi present. Concelebrating with His Excellency were Very Reverend Father Charles Cimpl and Reverend Father Robert Wulweber, priests of St. Michael’s parish in Sioux Falls and Reverend Father Martin Lawrence, Pastor of St. Mary’s in Salem.

Confirmandi from St. Mary’s Parish were: Patrick Neil Patrick Petree, Jesse James Ignatius Muth, Jordan Thomas Thomas Scheier, Andrew Eugene Michael Streff, Megan Marie Huberta Jaeger, Samantha Jo Joan Pulse, Rachael Ann Elizabeth Heumiller, and Jordan Joseph Martin VanHout.

Photos from Bishop Swain’s Visit to Parish School Children

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

On Rogation Tuesday (May 7th), His Excellency, the Most Rev. Paul Joseph Swain, Bishop of Sioux Falls, made a Pastoral Visit to St. Mary Catholic School to pray the Rosary and visit the children in the school following the Rosary.  Bishop Swain also blessed the Crosses for the Farms and Fields traditionally blessed on or around May 3rd, the old Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross.  In between each Mystery of the Rosary, the children sang “Mary the Dawn” from The St. Pius X Hymnal and the Regina Caeli, with its versicle and oration, ended the prayers in church before His Excellency headed over to the school.

In Thanksgiving for Pope Benedict XVI: Bishop Swain’s Homily

Thursday, February 28th, 2013


Mass of Thanksgiving

Commemorating the Pontificate of Benedict XVI

The Most Reverend Paul J. Swain

 Bishop of Sioux Falls

February 28, 2013

Cathedral of Saint Joseph

Today, in an historic moment and in the last hour of his pontificate, we gather to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass in thanksgiving for the sacrificial witness of faith of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. For the last time we will pray in holy Mass for “Benedict, our pope”.   But it will not be the last time we pray for Benedict, Pope emeritus.

There is a sadness to this day. Earlier this morning when I watched the Pope leave the Vatican tears came to my eyes. An unique era is ending. Yet the reality is that this moment is also a hopeful time. The Holy Father has reminded us that it is Christ who is head of the Church and others, including popes, are only his instruments. Earlier today His Holiness met with the Cardinals of the Church as one by one they came forward to offer signs of respect and gratitude. We do so here this day.

How, we might ask, has this Pope touched our lives and our diocese. Allow me to cite a few ways:

He appointed me the eighth bishop of Sioux Falls. The jury is still our whether that was a wise decision.

He was especially influential in helping us recognize the importance of beauty in the spiritual that lifts our sights to the transcendent. It is reflected in sacred art and music which influenced the restoration of this Cathedral of Saint Joseph and in the liturgies and concerts that are prayed and performed here and around the diocese.

He also has been an inspiration to many young people, and some of us older folks as well, teaching and calling us all to know the faith and defend the truth with courage and perseverance.

He has been a model for me of a patient shepherd; I only wish I had been a better student.

While we could revel in the brilliance of this Pope as a scholar, author, linguist, and more, it is the humble priest that strikes me as his lasting impression and most significant contribution.

The first reading from this Thursday in the second week of Lent captures his priesthood. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord.” How appropriate that is for this wise pope who, in his remarks in his last general audience yesterday noted, “Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having always before one the good of the Church and not oneself.”

The Gospel reading recalls the beggar Lazarus who is comforted and therefore rewarded in the world to come though ignored in this world. When Benedict was asked how does the Pope pray, he responded, “As far as the Pope is concerned, he too is a simple beggar before God – even more than all other people.”

In an interview he was asked: “You did not want to become a bishop, you did not want to become a Prefect, you did not want to become Pope.” (I might submit that in his heart he did not want to retire because of physical limitation.), the questioner went on, “Isn’t it frightening when things happen quite against your will?” His response was:

“It is like this: When a man says Yes during his priestly ordination, he may have some idea of what his own charism could be, but he also knows: I have placed myself into the hands of the bishop and ultimately the Lord. I cannot pick and choose what I want. In the end I must allow myself to be led. I had in fact the notion that being a theology professor was my charism, and I was very happy when my idea became a reality. But it was also clear to me: I am in the Lord’s hands, and I must be prepared for things that I do not want. In this sense it was certainly surprising suddenly to be snatched away and no longer be able to follow my own path. But as I said, the fundamental Yes also contained the thought that I remain at the Lord’s disposal and perhaps will also have to do things someday that I myself would not want.”

 This likely is such a day.

 Yet he did and does them in humility, love and faith. He summed up his papacy in his remarks yesterday:

 “[These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments. I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been – and the Lord seemed to sleep. Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His – and He shall not let her sink.”

 Thank you God for Joseph Ratzinger, priest and Benedict XVI, pope. May Our Lady watch over him.

 Viva il Papa, Viva il Papa emeritus.


His Excellency, Bishop Swain, Names “Pilgrimage Churches” for the YEAR OF FAITH

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012


St. Philomena Shrine Completed!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

The Shrine to St. Philomena in the Baptistery was completed today with the addition of the background and tester.  The beautiful work, done primarily in Venetian red/gold fleur de lis silk, was the work of Robin Westhoff of Salem, South Dakota.  It truly turned out beautifully, and very befitting the Little Saint.  The Shrine was placed in the baptistery since St. Philomena is such a powerful intercessor for children and for the parish priests who normally are the ministers of the sacrament of rebirth.  Thank you, Robin, for a job well done!


Pastoral Visit of Bishop Swain to Parochial School; Bishop blesses new statue of St. Philomena for church

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Newly-Ordained Bishop Swain, Oct., 2006

Today, First Friday, February 4, 2011, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Paul J. Swain, the 8th Bishop of Sioux Falls visited St. Mary School to visit the students, the staff, and many of the parents for the close of Catholic Schools Week.  It was a great morning: after parfaits, doughnuts and treats, the school children signed the Our Father for Bishop Swain before presenting him with a Spiritual Bouquet and a framed copy of Mater Gratiae, or Our Lady of the Bowed Head.

After he left the Parochial School, His Excellency visited the church and blessed the new statue of St. Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, just recently placed near the baptistery and given to the Glory of Almighty God and in loving memory of the late John B. and Alvina S. Bies.  The Shrine to St. Philomena will be completed with a dossal curtain of red silk and gold fleur de lis (being made and to be installed behind her statue).  A photograph of the completed dossal and statue will be posted as soon as it is completed.

St. Philomena

Memorial Plaque

New St. Philomena statue

Quasquicentennial Video & Photos now on-line

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

The video and many photographs from our Quasquicentennial Celebration on July 4, 2010 are now online in the PAGES section of this blog (on the right hand column).  You may also go to it by clicking