In June of 1923, Bishop John J. Swint of Wheeling invited the Pallottine Missionary Sisters to open a hospital in Huntington. To house the hospital, the Sisters were offered a building that previously had housed, first, an orphanage and then a prep school for boys. Both ventures had failed, but the Sisters were determined that their new hospital would succeed.
Bishop Swint shared that determination. When on November 6, 1924, the Sisters were ready to open their 35-bed hospital, he blessed the building and placed it under the protection of Mary, the Mother of God. From that moment, the institution was known as St. Mary's Hospital.
And from that day until his death in 1962, St. Mary's would have no greater friend and supporter than Bishop Swint. Time and time again the Sisters turned to him for help, and no request from them was refused.
Born December 15, 1879, in Pickens, West Virginia, Swint was the son of immigrants from Central Europe. Growing up in a devout Catholic family, he discovered his vocation at an early age.
At 14, he entered St. Charles College in Ellicott City, Maryland, and later completed his studies at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. Ordained to the priesthood in 1904, he served churches in Wellsburg, Hinton and Weston. When assigned to missionary duties, he traveled the West Virginia countryside, either on horseback or on foot, holding services in meeting halls, courthouses and even private homes.
In 1922, he was named Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling, a post he would hold for a remarkable 40 years.
Bishop Swint received numerous honors over the years. On the 50th anniversary of his ordination, Pope Pius XII conferred on him the title of Archbishop. The title is traditionally conferred on Bishops whose Dioceses have been declared an Archdiocese, and it is highly unusual for a Bishop of a Diocese to receive the honor.
As the years passed, Archbishop John J. Swint never faltered in his devotion to St. Mary's Hospital. Indeed, without his vision and dedication there might never have been a St. Mary's.
St. Mary's Medical Center is proud to induct him into our Wall of Fame.