Bishop Edward E. Swanstrom (1903-1985)

Bishop Edward E. Swanstrom (1903-1985) August 10, 2009

Born in Brooklyn, Edward Ernest Swanstrom (seen above on the right) studied at Fordham University before being ordained a priest in the Diocese of Brooklyn on June 2, 1928. Father Swanstrom earned a diploma from the New York School of Social Work (now Columbia University School of Social Work) in 1933 and a Ph.D. from Fordham in 1938. His doctoral dissertation concerned the problems of waterfront laborers in Brooklyn. He took on additional responsibilities as assistant diocesan director of Catholic Charities from 1933 to 1943, assistant executive director of Catholic Relief Services from 1943 to 1947, and finally as executive director of CRS from 1947 to 1976. Catholic Relief Services was originally intended as a temporary effort of the U.S. bishops to assist World War II refugees and POWs, but by 1955 the organization became permanent, and assisted victims of natural disasters as well as victims of war. In its earlier years, CRS concentrated on resettling refugees and sending supplies of food, clothing, and medicine to areas of need. Later, CRS began efforts to foster economic development in the areas it serves, particularly in the Third World. In 1960, Swanstrom was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of New York. He was the author of two books, The Waterfront Labor Problem (1938) and Pilgrims of the Night: A Study of Expelled Peoples (1950).

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