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Swint, John Joseph


Fourth bishop of Wheeling, W.Va.; b. Florence, near Pickens, W.Va., Dec. 15, 1879; d. Wheeling, Nov. 23, 1962. He was the son of Peter, an emigrant from Luxembourg, and Bavarian-born Caroline (Winkler) Swint. Religion was a dominant influence in the Swint home, which in lieu of a church, was the center of Catholicity in the Pickens area. Three of Swint's sisters entered religious life. After early education in nearby one-room schools, he entered (1893) St. Charles College, Ellicott City, Md. He graduated in 1899 and began his studies for the priesthood that same year at St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Md. He was ordained June 23, 1904, in St. Joseph's Cathedral, Wheeling, by Bp. Patrick J. Donahue and appointed to assist at the Wellsburg, W.Va., parish for the summer months. In September 1904 he was sent to the Apostolic Mission House, Washington, D.C., to prepare himself for missionary work in the Diocese of Wheeling. Recalled in April 1905, he was appointed pastor of Hinton, where he remained for three years. In 1908 he established the Diocesan Mission Bank, with offices at De Sales Heights Academy, Parkersburg. For the next 14 years he gave missions throughout the diocese, sometimes alone, sometimes with the assistance of other priests, notably James M. Gillis, CSP, and Joseph H. Steinbrunner, of Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1914 Swint's mission work was curtailed, but not ended, when he was made pastor of St. Patrick's parish, Weston. On Feb. 22, 1922, he was named auxiliary bishop of Wheeling, to assist the ailing Bishop Donahue. He was consecrated on May 11, 1922, as titular bishop of Sura, by Abp. Michael J. Curley of Baltimore and succeeded to the See of Wheeling, Dec. 11, 1922, following the death of Donahue. Swint was honored by being made an assistant at the pontifical throne (June 14, 1929), and he received the personal title of archbishop from Pius XII (March 12, 1954).

During Swint's 40-year episcopate, an unusual material development accompanied the spiritual growth of the diocese. In addition to the cathedral, 101 churches were built, as well as 35 elementary schools, eight high schools, one college, three new hospitals (not including two that were purchased and four that were substantially enlarged), five schools of nursing, two homes for the aged, and numerous convents, rectories, and other smaller structures. Outstanding as a preacher, he published upon request several volumes of his sermons, among which are Forgotten Truths (1941), Back to Christ (1941), and The Sweetest Story Ever Told (1947). For his religious, civic, educational, and humanitarian leadership, he was awarded honorary degrees by Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; Wheeling College; and the University of West Virginia, Morgantown.

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