By now you’ve probably seen Fr. Nate Swann on the altar here at St. Mary’s. He joined us in July as our new parochial vicar, and while his friendly nature and his zeal for the Gospel are obvious, there is much about Fr. Nate that his homilies don’t tell. So let’s get to know him better!
Fr. Nate hails from Virginia Beach, and was raised there alongside his twin brother and his younger sister. Prior to his move down south, Fr. Nate received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications and then his master’s degree in Educational Administration.
“I am a Virginia Tech Hokie,” he says. “So if you are a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket, be prepared to be called out!”
College allegiance aside, Fr. Nate found a job in student affairs at Mercer University in Macon. So, he moved down south, to the Bible Belt, with no intentions of becoming Catholic — much less becoming a priest.
But as God does, He beckoned Fr. Nate to Himself. And when the time came, Fr. Nate could not deny the calling.
While working at Mercer one day, Fr. Nate joined two Mercer students for Mass.
“They had to attend a Catholic Mass as part of a religious studies class assignment,” Fr. Nate says. “I told them I would go with them as, although I wasn’t raised Catholic, my grandmother was a practicing Catholic, so I was sure I could explain the Mass to them. I remember going to Mass and telling the guys, ‘I’ve come for weddings and funerals. I’ll help you understand what’s happening.’ But then when Mass began I realized I didn’t know what was going on!”
What’s more, Fr. Nate says he remembers leaving that Mass and telling the two students he was with that he would never become Catholic. Yet, as God would have it, Fr. Nate found himself back at Mass only a few weeks later.
“The students had to attend another Mass for class, and they asked me if I’d go with them,” Fr. Nate says. “So, I obliged.”
During that Mass, Fr. Nate was blown away! God went to work on his heart in such an extravagant manner that Fr. Nate’s eyes were immediately open to the truth!
“I knew what I was longing for — everything I was searching for was there,” Fr. Nate says. “I can’t even adequately explain the experience I had that day. I just knew everything I was looking for was found in the Catholic faith, and I couldn’t deny it.”
And so, Fr. Nate began his journey to the Church. He joined RCIA and came into the Church the following Easter. He became zealous for the faith and attended daily Mass regularly. As he did so, God continued working on his heart, slowly unveiling the exact calling He had in store for Fr. Nate.
“Once I became Catholic, the idea of the priesthood was soon on my heart,” Fr. Nate says. “All the ladies at daily Mass would tell me ‘You’d make a good priest,’ and while a part of me was like, ‘Slow down, I just became Catholic,’ part of me knew that was a possibility.”
As the pull on his heart grew stronger, Fr. Nate knew he needed to explore the possibility that God was calling him to the priesthood. So, he went to seminary. There, Fr. Nate says he spent his time praying and discerning whether God was, in fact, calling him to be a priest.
“That’s one thing I wish more people understood,” Fr. Nate says. “The seminary is a place for discernment. You do not need to be positive that God is calling you to the priesthood in order to start seminary. You need to go to seminary and spend that time discerning if you do, indeed, feel God is calling you.”
In June 2021, sure of the calling God had placed on his life, Fr. Nate was ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Savannah by Bishop Stephen D. Parkes. Fr. Nate was then assigned to serve at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Savannah until this July, when he was transferred to St. Mary’s.
Fr. Nate says he is excited to be here! He looks forward to getting to know all of us and serving us to the best of his ability.
“In a particular way, I am looking forward to working in the school,” he says. “I believe it is a blessing for me, as a priest, to bring the Lord’s presence everywhere I go. And in the school, in particular, I love the ability to help the kids see the Lord work in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. I am also looking forward to walking alongside parishioners as they journey through life. In good times and hard times, in times of grief and in times of joy, it is my honor to interact with people and to bring Jesus to them. I am excited to be here!”
We are excited to have you, Fr. Nate! Welcome to St. Mary’s. We are blessed by your presence!