UPDATED: Father Daniel F. Gowen remembered as ‘truly a people priest’

March 19, 2024 at 1:29 p.m.
Bishop O'Connell incenses the casket of Father Daniel F. Gowen. Mary Stadnyk photos
Bishop O'Connell incenses the casket of Father Daniel F. Gowen. Mary Stadnyk photos

By MARY STADNYK
Associate Editor

Bishop O'Connell and priests of the Diocese concelebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Daniel F. Gowen. Paying tribute to Father Daniel F. Gowen, Father Daniel F. Swift remembered him as a man who responded to the “incredible calling” to be a priest and faithfully lived out his vocation in service to the Church of Trenton.

Being a priest was “not so much what Dan wanted to do with his life, but rather, what our Blessed Lord wanted him to do with his life,” Father Swift said.

“Dan discerned that being a priest is what our Blessed Lord wanted of him.”

Father Gowen, a priest of the Diocese for almost 35 years, died March 9 at age 64.

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., served as principal celebrant of Father Gowen’s March 15 Mass of Christian Burial in St. Denis Church, Manasquan, Father Gowen’s home parish. Nearly 50 priests concelebrated, and family members participated as readers and gift bearers.

In his homily, Father Swift, current pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, spoke fondly of Father Gowen, his friend of 40 years and seminary classmate in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md. The two were ordained priests for the Diocese in 1989.

Directing comments to Father Gowen’s family, Father Swift spoke of how the initial seed for his friend’s priestly calling was planted “from his first Church, his domestic Church” at home, Father Swift said.

“That’s where every priestly vocation, known or unbeknownst to them, starts — in the home,” Father Swift said, then noted that Father Gowen’s vocation was further fostered by Msgr. Joseph O’Connor, who served as pastor of St. Denis Parish for 22 years.

“He was very proud of Dan and regarded him as ‘his vocation,’” Father Swift said of Msgr. O’Connor.

Father Swift extended prayerful sympathies to Father Gowen’s father, Matthew J. McGowen, who was watching a video recording of the Mass from home.

“Mr. Gowen, we are very aware of the pain you feel as you bury a son,” he said.

When children bury their parents, they are orphans, and when a spouse is buried, the survivor is a widow or a widower. “But there is no name given to a parent who buries a child,” Father Swift said. “That pain is unspeakable. We commend you to the intercession of our Blessed Mother.”

About Father Gowen

Daniel Gowen was born in 1959 in Bayonne and grew up in Manasquan. He attended St. Denis Parish and School and graduated from St. Rose High School, Belmar.

He studied at Mercer County Community College and Aviation Careers Institute, Norwood, Mass. He had his private pilot certificate and was air traffic control certified.

Father Daniel F. Swift, a friend and seminary classmate of Father Gowen, served as homilist for Father Gowen's Mass of Christian Burial. Father Gowen completed his undergraduate studies at St. Meinrad Seminary, St. Meinrad, Ind., and received a master of divinity degree from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md. Bishop John C. Reiss ordained him to the priesthood Dec. 2, 1989, in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

Father Gowen served as parochial vicar of St. Ann Parish, Keansburg; St. Anthony Parish (now part of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony), Hamilton; St. Joseph Parish, Toms River; and St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish, Spring Lake.

He served as temporary administrator, then pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Highlands (now part of Our Lady of Perpetual Help-St. Agnes Parish, Atlantic Highlands); temporary administrator, then pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, Avon-by-the-Sea (now part of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Bradley Beach); administrator, then pastor of St. Michael Parish, West End; and administrator of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Beverly.

Subsequent assignments included serving as parochial vicar of St. Paul Parish, Princeton; St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold; and Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish.

In addition to parish assignments, Father Gowen served as a diocesan pro-life chaplain; chaplain to the Trenton Council, Knights of Columbus; chaplain at McCorristin Catholic High School (now Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy), Hamilton; chairman of the diocesan priest council; chaplain of the Serra Club of Trenton; and a member of the committee for the Review for Diocesan Policies.

Upon his retirement in 2022, he resided in Villa Vianney, the diocesan facility for retired priests, in Lawrenceville.

Warmly Remembered

Many who had known and served with Father Gowen shared memories of him.

Phil and Marietta Garton remembered meeting Father Gowen when he was assigned as parochial vicar of St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, in his early years of priesthood.

“He was very special to us,” Marietta said, noting that she and Phil enjoyed many Saturday evenings attending the 6 p.m. Mass, then going out for dinner or to the movies with Father Gowen.

“He was truly a people priest,” she said.

She said while she and Phil were heartbroken by Father Gowen’s passing, she finds comfort in knowing that “his time had come for him to go home to God.”

“He will be in my heart forever and ever,” she said. “I will never forget him.”

Father Gowen was predeceased by his mother, Bridget McGlynn Gowen. He is survived by his father, Matthew J. Gowen; four brothers, Matt (Diana), Bernie (Dawn), Joe (Laurie), Jim (Linda); a sister, Marianne (Brien) Ely; 13 nieces and a great-niece.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Mary’s Seminary, 16300 Old Emmitsburg Rd., Emmitsburg, Md. 21717 (seminary.msmary.edu/support/index.html); Diocese of Trenton Department of Development – Retired Priests Support, 701 Lawrenceville Rd., Trenton, N.J., 08648; or Mary’s Place by the Sea, 22 Main Ave., Ocean Grove, N.J., 07756.

 





 




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Bishop O'Connell and priests of the Diocese concelebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Daniel F. Gowen. Paying tribute to Father Daniel F. Gowen, Father Daniel F. Swift remembered him as a man who responded to the “incredible calling” to be a priest and faithfully lived out his vocation in service to the Church of Trenton.

Being a priest was “not so much what Dan wanted to do with his life, but rather, what our Blessed Lord wanted him to do with his life,” Father Swift said.

“Dan discerned that being a priest is what our Blessed Lord wanted of him.”

Father Gowen, a priest of the Diocese for almost 35 years, died March 9 at age 64.

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., served as principal celebrant of Father Gowen’s March 15 Mass of Christian Burial in St. Denis Church, Manasquan, Father Gowen’s home parish. Nearly 50 priests concelebrated, and family members participated as readers and gift bearers.

In his homily, Father Swift, current pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, spoke fondly of Father Gowen, his friend of 40 years and seminary classmate in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md. The two were ordained priests for the Diocese in 1989.

Directing comments to Father Gowen’s family, Father Swift spoke of how the initial seed for his friend’s priestly calling was planted “from his first Church, his domestic Church” at home, Father Swift said.

“That’s where every priestly vocation, known or unbeknownst to them, starts — in the home,” Father Swift said, then noted that Father Gowen’s vocation was further fostered by Msgr. Joseph O’Connor, who served as pastor of St. Denis Parish for 22 years.

“He was very proud of Dan and regarded him as ‘his vocation,’” Father Swift said of Msgr. O’Connor.

Father Swift extended prayerful sympathies to Father Gowen’s father, Matthew J. McGowen, who was watching a video recording of the Mass from home.

“Mr. Gowen, we are very aware of the pain you feel as you bury a son,” he said.

When children bury their parents, they are orphans, and when a spouse is buried, the survivor is a widow or a widower. “But there is no name given to a parent who buries a child,” Father Swift said. “That pain is unspeakable. We commend you to the intercession of our Blessed Mother.”

About Father Gowen

Daniel Gowen was born in 1959 in Bayonne and grew up in Manasquan. He attended St. Denis Parish and School and graduated from St. Rose High School, Belmar.

He studied at Mercer County Community College and Aviation Careers Institute, Norwood, Mass. He had his private pilot certificate and was air traffic control certified.

Father Daniel F. Swift, a friend and seminary classmate of Father Gowen, served as homilist for Father Gowen's Mass of Christian Burial. Father Gowen completed his undergraduate studies at St. Meinrad Seminary, St. Meinrad, Ind., and received a master of divinity degree from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md. Bishop John C. Reiss ordained him to the priesthood Dec. 2, 1989, in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

Father Gowen served as parochial vicar of St. Ann Parish, Keansburg; St. Anthony Parish (now part of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony), Hamilton; St. Joseph Parish, Toms River; and St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish, Spring Lake.

He served as temporary administrator, then pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Highlands (now part of Our Lady of Perpetual Help-St. Agnes Parish, Atlantic Highlands); temporary administrator, then pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, Avon-by-the-Sea (now part of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Bradley Beach); administrator, then pastor of St. Michael Parish, West End; and administrator of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Beverly.

Subsequent assignments included serving as parochial vicar of St. Paul Parish, Princeton; St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold; and Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish.

In addition to parish assignments, Father Gowen served as a diocesan pro-life chaplain; chaplain to the Trenton Council, Knights of Columbus; chaplain at McCorristin Catholic High School (now Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy), Hamilton; chairman of the diocesan priest council; chaplain of the Serra Club of Trenton; and a member of the committee for the Review for Diocesan Policies.

Upon his retirement in 2022, he resided in Villa Vianney, the diocesan facility for retired priests, in Lawrenceville.

Warmly Remembered

Many who had known and served with Father Gowen shared memories of him.

Phil and Marietta Garton remembered meeting Father Gowen when he was assigned as parochial vicar of St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, in his early years of priesthood.

“He was very special to us,” Marietta said, noting that she and Phil enjoyed many Saturday evenings attending the 6 p.m. Mass, then going out for dinner or to the movies with Father Gowen.

“He was truly a people priest,” she said.

She said while she and Phil were heartbroken by Father Gowen’s passing, she finds comfort in knowing that “his time had come for him to go home to God.”

“He will be in my heart forever and ever,” she said. “I will never forget him.”

Father Gowen was predeceased by his mother, Bridget McGlynn Gowen. He is survived by his father, Matthew J. Gowen; four brothers, Matt (Diana), Bernie (Dawn), Joe (Laurie), Jim (Linda); a sister, Marianne (Brien) Ely; 13 nieces and a great-niece.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Mary’s Seminary, 16300 Old Emmitsburg Rd., Emmitsburg, Md. 21717 (seminary.msmary.edu/support/index.html); Diocese of Trenton Department of Development – Retired Priests Support, 701 Lawrenceville Rd., Trenton, N.J., 08648; or Mary’s Place by the Sea, 22 Main Ave., Ocean Grove, N.J., 07756.

 





 



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