Patna Jesuit province’s last American missionary dies

Fr Theodore Bowling, the oldest and last American Jesuit to serve in Patna, died November 22 in Pune, western India. He was 97.

Nov 22, 2021

Fr Theodore Bowling


NEW DELHI:
Fr Theodore Bowling, the oldest and last American Jesuit to serve in Patna, died November 22 in Pune, western India. He was 97.

The news was confirmed by Fr Susai Raj, the assistant to Patna provincial.

Fr Raj said the death occurred at 11:30 am.

Fr Bowling was in a hospital in Pune where had spent most of missionary life in India. He had completed 80 years in the Society of Jesus.

Fr Bowling was born on May 4, 1924. He entered the Society of Jesus on September 1, 1941 and was ordained a priest on March 24, 1955. He became a full-fledged Jesuit on February 2, 1979.

Fr Bowling, “a giant for manual work” was hailed for greening the campus of Pune’s Jesuit-managed De Nobili College starting in 1952 when he arrived there for his theological studies. In 1957 he was assigned to teach Basic Science and Scientific Questions connected with philosophy in the Papal Athenaeum in Pune (now Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth).

During his first year of theology he often volunteered to dig tree pits and fill up the pits with alternate layers of organic matter and mud, to give a chance to a sapling to establish deep roots.

In his second year, he was the sub-beadle and his duties included assigning fellow theology students to do 90-minute manual work twice a week to plant trees in the empty DNC spaces, and to water them for 4 years until they could survive the summer heat.

The Jesuit introduced evening “nature walks” that took him and friends to two rows of rain and Gulmohar trees planted 1942-1944 by Jesuits who built the ground floor of the theologate. The DNC lands were mostly barren he came there. Eventually, various kinds of trees came up on the college campus as well as within nearby housing societies.--Matters India

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