SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In the nearly 14 years Bishop Paul Swain led the Diocese of Sioux Falls, an emergency shelter for individuals and families was established, a cathedral was renovated and the names of 11 priests who were sexual abusers were released.

Swain, 79, died on November 26 in hospice care in Sioux Falls. Swain’s path to the priesthood happened after he was raised in the Methodist church after he served in the military and later obtained a law degree. He was ordained in 1988. He served the Diocese of Sioux Falls from Oct. 26, 2006, until February 2020.

As a religious leader, Swain released statements on the need for access to affordable and adequate health care as well in defense of traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

Swain was against the death penalty and supported a 2016 state House Bill that would have restricted transgender individuals from using locker rooms or bathrooms they identified with.

But the claims and confirmations of clergy child sexual abuse within the Catholic church, including in the Diocese of Sioux Falls, caused him to first question, and then reaffirm the faith choice he made, according to a letter he released on March 20, 2019.

The letter was included with a news release of the names of 11 priests involved in substantiated claims of abuse within the Diocese of Sioux Falls. Allegations were substantiated through investigation by law enforcement and/or Diocesan personnel, a diocese news release said.

Swain said while he was studying to be a priest in 1983, he had met with victims of clergy child sexual abuse whose “stories shocked me, moved me and discouraged me,” the letter said.

“I have also met with adults who were abused when they were minors since I became Bishop of Sioux Falls. Their pain is real and challenged me personally,” Swain said in his letter.

Swain said in his letter that Jesus continues to guide the church and that he did make the right choice in his conversion to Catholicism.

A March 21, 2019, KELOLAND story said the list released by the Diocese of Sioux Falls was not as detailed as others released in the region because it didn’t include where the priests served.

As Bishop, Swain was also heavily involved in the development of affordable housing in the communities in the Diocese and state.

St. Joseph Catholic Housing developed units in Brandon and Sioux Falls and other communities. By 2017, the housing entity had established at least 1,000 affordable housing units in the state.

In 2014, the diocese and Swain spearheaded the development of the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, an emergency shelter in Sioux Falls. The house served 1,759 unique individuals, 52 families and 101 children in 2021.

Swain also turned his attention to the religious house of the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

StoneWorld publication said Swain started planning for renovation in 2007. Stoneworld said in its May 1, 2013, story, “As the patron of the project, Bishop Swain wanted to do the project correctly or not at all.”

KELOLAND News spoke with Swain on Christmas 2011, as parishioners celebrated the holiday in the renovated Cathedral.

“Everything had to be first class — if we couldn’t afford it, then we wouldn’t do it,” explained Jamie LaCourt of Duncan G. Stroik Architect in that article.

The restoration project ran from 2009 to 2011, according to the history of the Cathedral of St. Joseph on the church’s website.

Swain also joined Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City in support of the 2016 House Bill 1008 in the state, also known as the bathroom bill. The bill’s purpose was to ensure that students matched their sex assigned at birth for bathroom and locker room use

The statement in support of the 2016 House Bill 1008 said, “The teaching of the Catholic Church is clear: one’s gender, male or female, is determined by God and not a matter of personal choice.” The house bill protects “the rights and respects the innate dignity of all persons in our schools,” the statement said.

The bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Dennis Daugaard. A veto override in the House failed.