Funeral services have been announced for Father John (Jay) V. Bowden, who died July 3 in Morris Hall, Lawrenceville, after an extended illness. He was 82.
Viewing hours will be July 8 from 4 to 8 p.m. in St. Gregory the Great Church, 4620 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated July 9 at 11 a.m. in St. Gregory the Great Church. Burial will be private.
A priest of the Diocese for 57 years, Father Bowden was born in Trenton in 1936 to John and Margaret Bowden. He grew up in Blessed Sacrament Parish (now part of Sacred Heart Parish), Trenton, where he graduated from the parish grammar school in 1950 and from Trenton Catholic High School in 1954.
Father Bowden prepared for the priesthood in St. Charles College, Catonsville, Md., and St. Mary Seminary and University, Baltimore. He was ordained a priest May 26, 1962 by Bishop George W. Ahr in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.
The newly ordained priest’s first assignment was as parochial vicar of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold, where his great uncle, Msgr. John Kucker, was pastor. Other parishes where Father Bowden served as parochial vicar were St. Matthew, Edison, (now part of the Metuchen Diocese); St. Mary of the Lakes, Medford; St. Joseph, Beverly (now part of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Beverly); St. Veronica, Howell, and St. Joan of Arc, Marlton.
Father Bowden was temporary administrator in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Whitehouse Station (now in the Metuchen Diocese), and St. Mark Parish, Sea Girt. As pastor he served in St. Raphael Parish, Hamilton (now part of St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton); St. Alphonsus Parish, Hopewell, and Epiphany Parish, Brick, where he served from 1993 until his retirement in December, 2006.
Along with his parish responsibilities, Father Bowden devoted several terms to serving as the spiritual director for the English speaking Diocesan Cursillo movement.
In a 2012 Monitor interview when he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination, Father Bowden reflected on how his long commitment to Cursillo began when parishioners who attended a Cursillo weekend in Buffalo, N.Y., found the experience so uplifting they asked his help in bringing the movement to the Trenton Diocese.
Cursillo originated in Spain in the mid-1940s, Father Bowden said in the interview, noting that Cursillo is Spanish for “a short course” – in this case, a “short course in Christianity” — which takes place over three-day Cursillo weekends which are the hallmark of the now worldwide spiritual movement.
The impact of making his own initial three-day Cursillo Weekend in early 1967 in Brooklyn led to a period of introspection and reflection. After much prayer, he and a core group of faithful from the Trenton Diocese asked for and received permission from Bishop Ahr to begin an English-speaking Cursillo in the Diocese.
Over the years, Father Bowden has always stayed connected to the movement, serving as spiritual director from from 1972-1977, 1982-1985, and 1996-2010.
“Our first Cursillo weekend was held on Pentecost in the Divine Word Seminary in Bordentown,” he said in the 2012 interview. “It was well attended. One of the big stresses of Cursillo is that you are formed by your own prayer life.”
Other positions Father Bowden has held include the Council of Priests in which he served one term as vice chairman; the Charismatic movement, Marriage Encounter and he also volunteered with Rachel’s Vineyard, a ministry which devotes itself to helping women and men heal from the trauma of, or involvement with, abortion.
Upon his retirement as pastor of Epiphany Parish, Father Bowden resided in Villa Vianney, the diocesan residence for retired priests, and served a parish assignment in St. Gregory the Great Parish until the time of his illness. He was a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and served as chaplain to St. Gregory the Great Council, Knights of Columbus.
He was an avid fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Mets and Yankees and the Duke University basketball team.
Father Bowden is survived by his sister, Judith Sost; two nephews and several great nephews and nieces, as well as many cousins and close friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Gregory the Great Parish, 4620 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square, N.J. 08690.