Bumper sticker for Catholic radio station leads family to God

Friday, May. 20, 2011
Bumper sticker for Catholic radio station leads family to God + Enlarge
Patrick Swain (right), his wife, Mickey, and son, Cody, 5, joined the Catholic Church after being inspired by an Immaculate Heart radio station bumper sticker and learning from what he heard. IC photo/Christine Young

TOOELE — Patrick Swain was driving one July day in 2009 and saw a bumper sticker for Immaculate Heart Radio. It struck him, so he tuned into the station and has been a fan ever since. He and his wife, Mickey, were baptized during the 2010 Easter Vigil at Saint Marguerite Parish.

"I was agnostic," said Swain, who had never been baptized. "I had been to the Mormon Church a handful of times before I was 10, and the thought of God crossed my mind over the years, but God was a riddle that I couldn't wrap my mind around."

Prior to seeing the bumper sticker, Mickey said she wanted to start going to church and to raise their 5-year-old son as a Catholic. She had been baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but had not attended services.

Swain started listening to Immaculate Heart Radio as often as possible, especially the program "Catholic Answers Live." "The program has callers who have questions about Catholicism and the apologists explain what Catholics believe," he said. "I learned a lot and started researching the Catholic faith on the Internet and reading books.

"Then I heard a priest on the radio say with such conviction that if you're on the fence about God, you better make up your mind because one day he'll shake the fence and you won't have a choice. That moved me. I thought ?Wow.' And the more I learned, the more I had a craving for God."

Swain and his family started attending church every Sunday, and then attending RCIA. "I found myself wishing that it was time for class so I could learn more," he said. "We only knew a few people, but the parish soon became like family to us."

Swain met with Father Hernando Diaz, then pastor. "Fr. Diaz said just keep listening to God because he was helping me and my wife," Swain said.

The months flew by quickly for Swain and it was time for the RCIA retreat before the Easter Vigil. Father Ken Vialpando, pastor of Saint Joseph Parish in Ogden, gave the retreat and heard Swain's story. "Fr. Vialpando told me to listen and let God lead us on this journey," Swain said.

"I've never been one to believe in bumper sticker theology, but I was so amazed with Patrick's story," said Fr. Vialpando. "It's a credit to Patrick, who was open to the will of God, and the radio station, who is witnessing daily around the clock. The owner of that bumper sticker is never going to realize until he or she gets to heaven how he or she was a witness to this family. That will spread like a ripple effect of good news from one generation to the next, to the community of St. Marguerite and the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Patrick is not a nominal Catholic, who has just come into the Church because of a bumper sticker and the radio station itself; he is actively involved."

After being baptized into the Catholic faith, Swain became part of the RCIA team at St. Marguerite Parish. "When Patrick came into RCIA, he was so interested, willing to learn and helpful that the next year we made him part of the team," said Pat Vialpando, RCIA coordinator and Fr. Vialpando's mother.

"I can't get enough," Swain said. "Never had I thought I could feel so much at peace as I do when I walk into this Church."

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