Today is/would be Fr. Tom Gowing’s 69th birthday.
Let me tell you a little about Tom and why he is was so special to me, and still lives on in my heart.
Thomas Mary Gowing was born August 14, 1943 in Ballinakill, Co. Laois. He attended seminary in Carlow, and came on mission to the Diocese of Santa Rosa around 1972, as a young fresh-faced priest. He landed at St. Rose where he met my great-grandmother, a devout Catholic who went to Mass every day, despite the fact she couldn’t speak much English. The young Irish priest, with an accent so think you could cut it with a knife, took a liking to her and started practicing his rudimentary Spanish with her.
In June 1974 I broke my leg while at my grandmother’s house, and I was stuck in Santa Rosa all summer. My great-grandmother had fallen and broken her hip in April, and had moved into my grandmother’s house. That summer I got to see Fr. Tom minister to my great-grandmother, bringing her Communion and spending time with her as she began her arduous and protracted journey to death.
The following March, after burying my great-grandfather 7 months after my great-grandmother, Fr. Tom told us he was going to Bolivia to study Spanish. He would then be working in South America. We didn’t see him again for many years.