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Meet Father John-Mary Bowlin

Father Bowlin on Mount Carmel.

Father John-Mary Bowlin became the pastor of Saint Kateri Tekawitha Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo in July of 2015. Father Bowlin was appointed to the parish by Bishop Strickland of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler at the retirement of Msgr. Ted Rydelek.

Father describes himself as an ?Army brat? as his father was in the military and his family moved to various locations. Born in Alabama, Father grew up in Alabama and in Germany. As a young person, Bowlin was active in scouting and earned the title of Eagle Scout. He was also active in his Catholic parish. After his family moved to San Antonio, Father Bowlin graduated high school there and then earned a degree in History at Saint Mary?s University.

Following his graduation from the university, Father Bowlin entered the Army and served for ten years in Active Duty and in the Reserves. He was stationed in Germany, Afghanistan, and San Antonio. With the military experience behind him, he was ready to become a priest which was something he knew he wanted to do since high school.

Father Bowlin, as part of the Tyler Diocese, was sent to the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. He was awarded a Bachelor?s Degree in Philosophy after completing the two year pre-Theology program. Later he earned a Master in Dogmatic Theology and a Master of Divinity. He was also awarded a Bachelor of Sacred Theology by the Lateran University in Rome.

In June of 2012, Father Bowlin was ordained to the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ. He then spent time serving at several parishes in the Diocese of Tyler. (The Tyler Diocese includes thirty-three counties in the North East Texas area.) When the parish in Buffalo needed a new priest, Father Bowlin was chosen by Bishop Strickland to take over in the newly renovated church of Saint Kateri?s.

Father Bowlin has recently returned from a twelve day pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he led a group of 28 people, most of whom were from the Buffalo area. Ten of the individuals were young people which Bowlin especially enjoys instructing. While in Jordan, Father Bowlin and the group visited with his uncle. ?My mother, who was on the trip with us,? said Bowlin, ?was born in Jordan. My uncle still lives there.?

Asked about his thoughts on visiting the Holy Land, Father said that he would like people to know that ?It is not as dangerous as people think it is. It is especially safe for pilgrims who travel there. The Christian community in the Holy Land relies on the support of the faithful who visit. I would encourage people to go. The Christian population in the Holy Land continues to dwindle and needs support. The Palestinians are treated, in many ways, as second class citizens.?

Father Bowlin, who describes himself as ?functionally bilingual? offers a Mass in Spanish every Sunday at 11:15am which is always well attended. At the Masses in English, that are held on Saturday evening at 5 and on Sunday morning at 9:00am, Father also delivers a summary of the Homily in Spanish. All speakers, English or Spanish or other, are welcome at Saint Kateri?s.

Father Bowlin has a passion for learning and for teaching and is always willing to explain the Catholic faith. ?I am happy to discuss why we believe what we believe, and why we do what we do. And I am not afraid to use my Bible.?

To know more about the Catholic Church in Buffalo and see a complete list of service times visit the Parish Church at 220 North Merrill Street or the parish?s Facebook page.