Bishop Paul J. Swain used a little laughter, a timely topic and statements about God's love in introducing himself to the Catholic community Tuesday at St. Mary's Church in Aberdeen.
Swain, the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, was in town for his 10-city "Thanksgiving Pilgrimage," which began Oct. 29. Bishop Swain, 63, was ordained and installed as a bishop on Oct. 26 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls. The diocese had been without a bishop since Bishop Robert Carlson left in 2004.
"I certainly have enjoyed the Masses so far," he said to the approximately 400 people who attended Tuesday's Thanksgiving Mass. "The welcome has been very warm. ...As I travel this beautiful countryside and as I meet you, I know I must get up here and see what's happening in your real world."
Bishop Swain is on the tail end of his tour throughout eastern South Dakota. He will be in Watertown today and Brookings on Thursday. As for Friday at 4 p.m.? "I'm going to be at the Dome," Swain said referencing the Aberdeen Roncalli and St. Thomas More championship football game. "I heard last year there was a cheer: 'We have a bishop, how about you?'" [ROTFLM*O]
While Bishop Swain, the eighth bishop of Sioux Falls, was in Aberdeen to get acquainted with the people and the land, he also took a moment to remember election night, specifically Referred Law 6, which would ban abortion in South Dakota.
Bishop Swain, who came to Sioux Falls from Madison, Wis., said he voted yes by absentee ballot.
"Whatever happens in the election, we still have more work to do so that hearts are changed and we don't have to rely on a law," he said. "...Churches are a sign of hope."
He challenged the people to stand by God's love.
"Be not afraid," he said. "God is love. We need not be afraid when we know that God is love."
The Diocese of Sioux Falls comprises about 35,000 square miles of territory east of the Missouri River in South Dakota. BishopSwain will preside over nearly 130,000 Catholics. Aberdeen American News