Editor’s note: This column was submitted by Deacon Gregory M. Kirk of St. Joseph Church in Galion
Godspeed is a word that is used to wish someone success on a journey.
With a heavy heart, but one filled with gratitude, I wish my brother John Swain Godspeed.
I could speak of John in many ways — as a member of the National Guard, a member of the Army Ready Reserve, as Chief of Police for the Galion Police Department, as Chief Probation Officer for Crawford County, and as Safety-Service Director for the city of Galion.
Then, I could pivot and talk about John in the ways that mattered most to him — as a loving husband who lived out the meaning of holy matrimony. As a father who tried to make the world better by loving his children. As a grandfather who continued to love selflessly, with new generations.
It is easy to talk about John as a man of faith. Through all of John’s various relationships and commitments, one consistent thread ran throughout his life: his love for Christ. John’s faith isn’t hard to recall or describe. Some people appreciate the Gospel, some study the Gospel, some even dare to preach the Gospel. John preached the Gospel according to the way Saint Francis characterized preaching, “Preach the Gospel, if necessary use words.” You see, John didn’t just talk about the Gospel. He lived it out.
John was old enough to have been my father. He was young enough to be my very dear friend.
Most of all, John was my brother. That is the way I will always remember him. Brothers support one another, they call the best from each other, they stand with each other in times of joy, and in times of sadness and challenge. In my adult life, John was all of those things to me.
One of my fondest memories in recent years was the evening I stood before Galion City Council and advocated that John be hired as Safety-Service Director. It was an easy thing to do. After all, I was recommending a man who lived to pursue justice and who prized the truth above all things. A man of integrity who modeled for those who worked under him what integrity looked like. I didn’t have to mention that John tried to love his neighbor as he loved himself. Everyone present knew that.
Godspeed John Swain. This Christmas will be poorer without you. And yet, the richness will be there too. You will be missed. But there is joy wrapped in the grief. The Christ you loved and served in this life is no longer a mystery to you. I’m so glad you are home. Home in the House of the Father.