Joseph Oliver Bowers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Joseph Oliver Bowers
Bishop St. Johns -Basseterre (Emeritus)
Bishop Bowers in his early days.
Church Roman Catholic Church
See St. Johns-Basseterre
In office 1971–81
Predecessor New Creation
Successor Donald Reece
Ordination 22 January 1939
Consecration 8 January 1953
by Francis Joseph Spellman
Personal details
Born (1910-03-28)28 March 1910
Massacre, British Leeward Islands (present-day Dominica)
Died 5 November 2012(2012-11-05) (aged 102)
Agomanya, Eastern Region, Ghana
Previous post Bishop of Accra, Ghana

Joseph Oliver Bowers, SVD (28 March 1910 – 5 November 2012) was a prelate of the Roman Catholic Church from Dominica, who went to West Africa to serve in the then Gold Coast in 1939. He is credited with having tripled the Catholic population and parishes in Ghana and for substantially increasing the number of Catholic priests and religious laity in the Diocese of Accra.[1] At the time of his death in Ghana, aged 102, he was the second-oldest Roman Catholic bishop and the oldest from the Caribbean.[2]


Bowers was born in the Dominican, to Sheriff Montague Bowers (originally from Antigua) and his wife Mary.[3] He was educated at the Dominica Grammar School,[4] before traveling to the United States to attend St. Augustine Seminary, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. He was ordained on 22 January 1939,[5] and continued as a priest in the Society of the Divine Word from 1939 to 1952. He was then appointed auxiliary bishop of Accra, Ghana, and Titular Bishop of Cyparissia. Bowers was appointed Bishop of Accra on 8 January 1953, and received his episcopal consecration on 22 April 1953, from Cardinal Spellman at the Church of Our Lady of the Gulf in Bay St. Louis, United States, becoming the first black bishop consecrated in the United States.[6]

In 1957 Bowers founded the congregation of the Sisters of the Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer (HDR) in Accra, which was dedicated to caring and comforting the poor. He was also the founder of St John’s Seminary and College known, as of 2012, as Pope John Senior High School and Minor Seminary.

In recognition and acknowledgement of his work in Ghana, when the diocese of St. John's-Basseterre in the West Indies was created in 1971 – comprising the islands of Antigua-Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands – Bowers was appointed its first bishop on 16 January 1971, becoming the chief pastor in Antigua.[7] On 17 July 1981, he retired from church office and, after some years spent in Charlestown, Nevis, returned to Dominica, where he lived in Mahaut in the care of his sister, Blossom Ann Reid.

In the 1990s the HDR Sisters, some of whom had periodically visited him in Dominica, invited him back to Ghana,where they cared for him in the town of Agomanya. At the celebrations there for his 100th birthday a guest was Nicholas Liverpool, president of Dominica.[8]

Bowers died at the age of 102 on 5 November 2012, in Agomanya in the Eastern Region of Ghana.[9] He was buried at the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Accra.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Catholic Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers has died at the age of 102",, 6 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Oldest Caribbean bishop dies - Nov 11", Catholic News, 10 November 2012.
  3. ^ Thomson Fontaine, "The Catholic Community celebrates the 100th birthday of Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers of Dominica", The Dominican, 5 April 2010.
  4. ^ "Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers of Dominica passes on", Dominica News Online, 6 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Former Roman Catholic Bishop of Dominican descent dies in Africa", Caribbean 360, 8 November 2012.
  6. ^ Time Magazine, "Religion: St Augustine’s First", 4 May 1953.
  7. ^ Wendell Lawrence, "Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers", Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences, July 2007.
  8. ^ "Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers SVD - Bishop Bowers Marks His 100th Birthday", Divine Word Missionaries.
  9. ^ "Bishop Oliver Bowers dies", Ghana News Agency.
  10. ^ "Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers laid to rest in Accra", Ghana Business News, 11 November 2012.
  11. ^ "Bishop Bowers Interred", Peace FM Online, 10 November 2012.

External links[edit]