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not your usual bishop

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 31, 2006

The newly appointed Bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has an interesting background. Bishop-elect Paul Swain was raised as a Methodist and trained as a lawyer. He came into the Catholic Church while serving as counsel to the Governor of Wisconsin, then left that job to enter the seminary.

Long before that, he served in Vietnam, where he won a Bronze Star.

An interesting resume. A name to remember.

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Show 13 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Sep. 04, 2006 6:12 PM ET USA

    The bishop is a man who faithfully served his family, his country, and now his God. May he continue to exhibit the strength and manly courage he paooesses. A.M.D.G.

  • Posted by: hUMPTY dUMPTY - Sep. 01, 2006 3:51 PM ET USA

    I was mistaken on Rumsfield, didn't know know that both he and I attended Georgetown whilst on Active Duty. [I stayed with the Military for 26+ years.] Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. CDR, USN (ret.) {Crusdader, Eagle, & Hoya}

  • Posted by: - Sep. 01, 2006 12:31 PM ET USA

    That’s right, sky6a. I come from a family of vets and I’m here to tell you that ribbon shopping was a favorite pastime of Vietnam-era vets. The result: The real awardees’ service was cheapened by all the awards to pretenders. And I didn’t start this discussion re. the Bronze Star; I only commented because Di seemed to be intrigued by it. BTW: Even though I was never in-country, I hold 3 Air Medals for combat support operations and the Outstanding Unit Award, with “V” device (“V” for valor).

  • Posted by: The Roman - Sep. 01, 2006 10:56 AM ET USA

    In 1959 at Georgeteown Law Center (when it was still somewhat Catholic) there was a Naval Officer (with wings) taking extra courses. He was known to all of us as Don Rumsfeld. Was he a twin of the same name? An imposter? Or has hUMPTY dUMPTY degraded "Sound Off" to the level of political Invective which in this case would be gratuitously and maliciously false?

  • Posted by: Convert1994 - Sep. 01, 2006 10:03 AM ET USA

    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was a naval aviator and flight instructor.

  • Posted by: hUMPTY dUMPTY - Sep. 01, 2006 5:16 AM ET USA

    Interesting that the new Bishop served in Viet Nam. Neither our VP nor the SOD served in the military: they had more important things to do. I often attend Methodist African American Services when my ordained minister wife delivers the Word. Good music, good people. She often attends Mass with me at my Jesuit African American Church. CDR, USN (ret,)

  • Posted by: Pete133 - Sep. 01, 2006 2:12 AM ET USA

    Anyone decorated for bravery should be respected, as should anyone who served in the military--especially during a conflict or war. Far too many were dodging the draft and figuring out how to get out of service. A few Intelligence Officers also served on clandestine missions and were really exposed to danger. Bp-elect Swain's holiness is what must be considered. He will need the help of the Holy Spirit to lead the flock along the right path.

  • Posted by: Bernadone - Aug. 31, 2006 9:23 PM ET USA

    I find it interesting that the focus is on the Bronze Star, rather than on the diversity of the Bishop's experiences. A bit of real life in the real world, which is often lacking in the background of many prelates, might just help them to gain a better understanding of the rest of the Church. Warren (Who, from experience, feels that military intelligence is a contradiction of terms.)

  • Posted by: Jdarc - Aug. 31, 2006 7:17 PM ET USA

    One young priest of the Sioux Falls diocese was much looking forward to the appointment of a new bishop. He was an excellent young man .. and sadly taken from us in a jet ski accident in June. I'd place money on Fr. Reitmeyer's intercession for his beloved diocese in getting such an outstanding candidate for the new bishop. RIP, Padre.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 31, 2006 7:13 PM ET USA

    Altar boy, You say you are not knocking Swain but you certainly are knocking Vietnam era Bronze Stars and Distinguished Flying Crosses. I know quite a few gents who earned their awards in Vietnam. The presumption should favor the awardee. I'd like to see more Bishops with these kinds of awards whether you think they have meaning or not. Having been there, they do have meaning. Sky6a

  • Posted by: - Aug. 31, 2006 5:24 PM ET USA

    Di, During the Vietnam War, Bronze Stars were handed out like campaign ribbons. If one was an aviator, one might get the Distinguished Flying Cross instead. And one didn’t actually have to serve in-country to get these awards. Besides, Swain’s bio indicates that he was Intelligence Officer, so, in all likelihood, he never saw combat or participated in combat support operations. BTW: I’m not knocking Swain, just not attaching any significance to this particular military award.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 31, 2006 3:41 PM ET USA

    Methodists have some rousing anthems (maybe they still sing them) like "Rise up O men of God, be done with earthly things" &etc. This background and a Bronze Star bode well for Sioux Falls.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Aug. 31, 2006 12:29 PM ET USA

    Thanks be to God & to His Vicar on earth, Pope Benedict XVI, for naming Msgr. Swain as the next bishop of Sioux Falls -- this is a blessing for the Church, the dioceses of Sioux Falls & Madison & Bp.-elect Swain. This also speaks well of Bp. Morlino -- that his vicar general is chosen as a bishop. Madison folks will be saddened to see Bp. Swain leave, but will rejoice in the fact that Sioux Falls, after a nearly 2-year sede vacante, is getting a good bishop.

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