John Swistovich was raised in Binghamton, in the diocese of Syracuse, New York. After high school, he attended Wilkes College and studied history, where he also played basketball. Father John graduated in 1968, and took a job in banking for three years in his home town. After that he became a traveling salesperson for Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company. He was initially assigned to work a territory east of the Mississippi, but, as Father John stated, “You are where are because you are supposed to be. Everything happens for a reason.” When a salesman was let go in Houston, Father John was given that position.
Father stayed with the shoe company for a few years, but he was traveling a lot – his territory was from Beaumont to Del Rio and everything south of that line. He then accepted a position with Shopper’s Charge, a credit card company out of Indiana. He worked up from a sales position to Vice President of Marketing in their Houston office. He was still traveling a lot, but on planes instead of on the road. After a few years, he moved on to Lanier Corporation, a world-wide office products company with a district office in Houston. It was this company which brought Father John to the Fort Worth area. He was sent to Dallas as a regional trainer, and then worked in the Abilene and San Angelo areas for a time, then to Fort Worth for about 10 years. He was very successful in the business world- he was salesman of the month 44 times and salesman of the year six times!
Father John came to St. Michael as a parishioner in 1986, when Monsignor Schumacher was pastor. Even as a child at St. Thomas Aquinas in Binghamton, he thought about a vocation in the Church. Although very shy as a child, he had taken public speaking classes for his past positions in business, so he was prepared when he responded to an ad about vocations in the St. Michael newsletter in 1991. Father John was ordained as a priest on May 23, 1998.
After spending two years as parochial vicar at St. Matthew’s in Arlington and then one year at St. John the Apostle in North Richland Hills, Father John was assigned as pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Wichita Falls in June 2001. His mission at his new parish was clear: the parish had been holding Mass in the elementary school’s gymnasium for over 50 years, and a church needed to be built. In July 2009, the beautiful, 1,000 seat church was dedicated. For this project, the parish did not borrow any money from the diocese. The parish also remodeled the elementary school, the parking lots, and several other items before the projects were finished in July 2011, just before Bishop Vann assigned Father John to be the new pastor of St. Michael.
Father John is very thankful for the extraordinary welcome he has received at St. Michael. In return, Father John has something to share that he learned in seminary. One of the tasks given to new seminarians was to write an autobiography, focusing on five-year segments of your life. What were the important events and people at that time of your life? As you review your autobiography, you will see how all things work together to form your life’s journey. Also, you will be able to see if you have gotten off track and change your path to get back to where you need to be. Everything is part of God’s plan, and all things happen for a reason.