Loretto Sister Swain dies at 66
By Jean Schildz
Sister Susan Swain
Loretto Sister Susan Swain, St. Mary’s Academy Lower School principal for 15 years and founding board member of Escuela de Guadalupe, died in her Denver home April 27. She was 66.
Sister Swain was principal at St. Mary’s Academy Lower School from 1987 to 2002, and had served on the Englewood school’s board of trustees since 2004. She also was a founding board member of Escuela de Guadalupe, a dual-language Catholic elementary school in northwest Denver.
Sister Swain was born Susan Russell Swain on Aug. 11, 1945, in Maplewood, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, to Harry J. and Helen (McGuire) Swain. She entered the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross novitiate in Nerinx, Ky., on Sept. 8, 1963, following in the footsteps of her sibling, Sister Mary (formerly Peter Mary) Swain, who had entered five years earlier. She was received into the Loretto Sisters on May 31, 1964. She made her first vows May 31, 1966, and her final vows Dec. 8, 1974.
Sister Swain earned a bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in elementary education and social studies, in 1968 from Fontbonne College (now University) in St. Louis, and a master’s in education in 1975 from Webster College (now University) in Webster Groves.
In 1968, Sister Swain joined the staff at Loretto Lower School in Kansas City, Mo. She remained there until 1983, teaching and serving as principal during the school’s final years.
In the summer of 1985, Sister Swain moved to Denver, where she then taught for the next two years at St. Pius Grade School in Aurora. She was hired in 1987 as principal of St. Mary’s Academy Lower School. She once said that she spent the next 15 years “enjoying every minute.”
“All that (Sister Susan) did for St. Mary’s Academy she did with dedication and with passion,” said Deirdre Cryor, St. Mary’s Academy president.
In the mid-1990s, Sister Swain was among a group of people who planned for a school in the neighborhood surrounding Guadalupe Parish in northwest Denver to combat the high dropout rate of Hispanic students and in 1999 Escuela de Guadalupe became a reality.
In the summer of 2000, Sister Swain was elected to the Loretto Executive Committee. She served full time on the committee working on the staff at the Loretto Central Staff Office in Littleton until December 2009. She then served as a staff member at the Loretto Central Staff Office from 2010 until her death.
In May 2011, Sister Swain was diagnosed with cancer. She was able to carry on with her regular routine, including her work on a committee designing the new Loretto Heritage Center at the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky., and on the Jubilee Planning Committee honoring the congregation’s 200th anniversary this year.
Sister Swain is survived by her sibling, Sister Mary Swain of Nerinx.
Sister Swain’s body was cremated and will be buried at the Loretto Motherhouse Cemetery in Nerinx. A memorial Mass will be celebrated 6:30 p.m. today, May 9, in the high school forum at St. Mary’s Academy, 4545 S. University Blvd. in Englewood.