Rev. Eric V. Swearingen
Legacy and Visalia Times Delta
January 22, 2020
Visalia - Surrounded by his loving family and many friends, Rev. Eric V. Swearingen completed his early mission on January 18, 2020, having served as a Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Fresno for more than 32 years.
Eric Van Swearingen was born August 8, 1961 in Visalia, California. He was the second son of Richard and Connie (Goodreau) Swearingen. His early years were spent on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley, where his family farmed in the Riverdale/Five Points area. Those early lessons of farming, working side-by-side with people of diverse cultures, languages and backgrounds would serve him well in his later life of ministry. He was blessed with the opportunity for a Catholic education first at Mary Immaculate Queen school in Lemoore and then George McCann Memorial Catholic School in Visalia. After completing his high school years at Redwood High School in Visalia, the realization that he might be called to the Catholic priesthood led him to St. John's Seminary College in Camarillo. Having earned his Bachelor Degree in Philosophy, he was sent to complete his theological studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, OH. On May 23, 1987 he was ordained a priest for service in the Diocese of Fresno.
Fr. Swearingen served in various parish assignments throughout his more than 32 years of priestly ministry, including: Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Bakersfield; Our Lady of Victory, St. Alphonsus, St. Helen and Holy Spirit Parishes, Fresno; St. Anthony Parish, Atwater; St. Jude Parish, Easton; St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Lemoore; and the united Catholic communities of Good Shepherd Parish, Visalia.
Fr. Eric was a gifted administrator and pastor who could relate to all age groups. He honed his people skills while serving in a traveling circus during the summers of his seminary training. There he helped train the dog performers, gave religious instruction to the children of the circus performers and learned how to be a real clown! This adaptable nature would serve him greatly during his military service as a USAF National Guard Chaplain (Major) and a volunteer Fresno police chaplain. He even found a way to merge his priestly ministry with his love of travel, serving as a Cruise Ship chaplain with the Apostleship of the Sea-USA, and accompanying scores of pilgrims to those holy sites which helped deepen their experience of the Faith.
Fr. Eric had a keen sense of humor and was fond of playing practical jokes. He enjoyed cooking and celebrating with friends his successes in the kitchen or at the grill. His home was a welcoming place and would often be a gathering spot for his priest brothers. And when some of those brother priests need a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen in a time of difficulty, they could count on his openness and support. He also knew sorrow and suffering in this life; but his strong faith and unwillingness to give up saw him through and provided us all with a living image of Jesus.
Besides his loving parents, Fr. Eric will also be greatly missed by his brother Craig (Kristi) Swearingen of Visalia; his sister Stephanie (Robert) Twedt of Mount Vernon, WA; his nieces and nephews Ryan Swearingen, Lynsi (Brenden) Watson, Robert Twedt, Jr., Kristin Twedt, Hudson Swearingen, Harper Swearingen, Hadley Swearingen, Cameron Watson, Kase Watson and Grace Twedt.
A viewing and visitation will be held on Thursday, January 23, 2020 from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. at St. Mary's Church, Visalia. The Vigil/Rosary will follow at the church at 6:00 p.m. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, January 24, 2020 at St. Mary's Church, Visalia. Interment will be at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at St. Peter's Catholic Cemetery, Fresno.
In lieu of flowers, friends may make a donation in memory of Fr. Eric Swearingen to The Bethlehem Center, Visalia; the Building Fund for St. Charles Borromeo Church in Visalia or their favorite charity.
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