PERE GERALD BOWE
Né le 15 / 03 / 1908 à Darlington, diocèse de Hexham ; premiers vœux à Orly, le 08 / 09 / 1925 ; vœux perpétuels à Chevilly le 18 / 11 / 1929 ; diacre à Chevilly, le 24 / 09 / 1932 ; prêtre à Chevilly, le 02 / 10 / 1932 ; a travaillé à Maurice du 30 / 10 / 1933 au 06 / 09 / 1994 ; Il est mort dans le Sussex, le 17 / 12 / 1994, âgé de 86 ans, après 69 ans de Profession .
“Une charité sans limite, un dévouement sans relâche et un humour très anglais ont caractérisé le grand missionnaire que fut le Père Gérald Bowe ." This is how the "La Vie Catholique", the Mauritian Catholic Newspaper, summed up the long life of Gerry Bowe, the oldest and probably the least known member of our English Province . For him home was Mauritius, the country to which he was appointed in 1933, and which he only left for occasional holidays with his family in Sussex . When interviewed on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee in 1982, his replies revealed a commitment that was almost frighteningly total : « En ce qui concerne mon pays, ma famille, les occupations ont été telles que je n'ai pas eu beaucoup de temps pour y penser ... J'étais ici pour servir et je ne pouvais rester attaché à mon pays . »
Obituary written by Vincent O'Toole, who also preached the homily at Gerry's funeral in Bickley, 22 December 1994
Yet paradoxically, Gerry remained the typical English gentleman until the day he died : very tall, straight and distinguished-Iooking, easy to pick out in a crowd . French and Creole came far more easily to him than English, and yet he always spoke with an English accent .
Gerry was born in Darlington, Co. Durham on 15 March 1908 . He was the eldest of a family of six, three boys and three girls . His brother Leon was at Castlehead for two years in the twenties, as was his nephew Maurice in the sixties . Gerry entered Castlehead in 1918 at the age of ten . His novitiate was at Orly in 1924-25, and philosophy at Mortain 1925-27 . It was at this time that the family moved south to St. Leonard's in Sussex, where his parents both worked at the Jesuit Novitiate . As he was so young, he was asked to teach for two years at Castlehead, 1927-29, and then he finished his studies at Chevilly from 1929-33 . He was ordained priest at Chevilly on 3 October 1932 .
His first and last appointment was to the District of Mauritius in 1933 . In 1937, Mgr. Leen, the Bishop of Port Louis, appointed a team of four priests to establish a new secondary school ; Frs. Liston, Rothwell, Lalouette and Bowe . This was the beginning of the famous Collège du Saint-Esprit, which has played such an important role in the educational history of the country . When Fr. Liston was appointed Bishop of Port Louis, Gerry succeeded him as Director of the college and remained there until he became Principal Superior of the District in 1950 .
It was while he was superior that he was named vice-postulator of the cause of Jacques Laval, but it was not untillater when he was a hospital chaplain that he was able to devote himself to this work and write popular booklets to make Fr. Laval better known, both in Mauritius and abroad . The bishop gave him leave to carry off a trunk full of documents, depositions, testimonies from the diocesan archives and he spent countless hours pouring over them at the hospital . He seemed to become a personal friend of Jacques Laval, so his happiness was complete when he was beatified in Rome in April 1979 .
He spoke at times of how he would like to be buried at Saint Croix close to the man he admired so much, but unfortunately it was not to be . Gerry died in hospital at Eastbourne on 17 December and was buried, alongside many members of our Province, at Chislehurst . It was not entirely unfitting . Even though he did not know many of us, he was always most gratefully for news of the Province and replied personally to each circular that was sent out .
Tony Quinn says that in the latter days, when Gerry's memory was almost gone, he would greet him with the first line of the Castlehead school song and Gerry would complete it with gusto ! We must be proud to have such men amongst our number . We pray that Jacques Laval will welcome him into eternal happiness and inspire us to emulate his total self-giving in the service of the Gospel .