Accra, Dominica (TDN) -- The world’s third oldest catholic bishop Oliver Bowers of Dominica has died at the age of 102.
Bishop Bowers who spent 59 years as an ordained Bishop died quietly in Accra, Ghana where he served for many years. More than fifty-nine years ago on April 22, 1953, Bishop Bowers was celebrated all over the world, when at the height of the civil rights struggle for blacks in the United States, he became the first black bishop to be consecrated in that country.
Bishop Bowers was born in humble circumstances in Massacre Dominica, on March 28, 1910 to Sheriff Montague Bowers (originally from Antigua) and his wife Mary Bowers. His father was for many years head teacher of the Massacre Government Primary School, and organist at the St. Ann's Roman Catholic parish church.
The young Bowers felt God’s call to service at a very early age, and upon graduating from the Dominica Grammar School he moved to the United States to attend St. Augustine Seminary, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi where he studied for the priesthood.
He was ordained a priest on January 22, 1939 and shortly thereafter he left for Ghana, at the time the country was called the Gold Coast.
Bishop Bowers founded the congregation of the Sisters of the Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer (HDR) in Accra in 1957, which was dedicated to caring and comforting the poor. He also started a school, which is named after him in his honor.
He is widely credited for tripling the catholic population and parishes in Ghana and for substantially increasing the number of Catholic priests and religious laity in the Diocese of Accra.
He would go on to serve in Antigua and St Kitts from 1971 – 1983 before retiring to his native Dominica in 1981.
About sixteen years ago the HDR Sisters, some of whom visited him in Dominica from time to time, invited him back to Ghana so they could care for him in his final days. Today he resides in the town of Agomanya, surrounded by the people that he gave so much of his life to.