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Fairfield Prep Mourns the Loss of the Rev. James Bowler, S.J.

Below is an email sent by President Christian Cashman following the passing of the Rev. James Bowler, S.J. Information regarding Fr. Bowler's Memorial Mass are listed at the bottom.


Dear Prep Community,

It is with great sadness that I write to share the news of the passing of the Rev. James M. Bowler, S.J., beloved Jesuit and former Fairfield Prep Principal. Father Bowler passed away on Wednesday evening at the Campion Center in Weston, Mass., at the age of 84. Before his retirement, Father Bowler was a distinguished figure on campus, and a singular contributor to the life and Ignatian spirit of the Fairfield Prep and Fairfield University community for decades.

A native of Holyoke, Mass., Father Bowler’s Jesuit formation began as a young Jesuit Scholastic at Fairfield Prep from 1967 to 1970 teaching history and economics. He was ordained in 1974, and a few years later began serving as one of the youngest principals in Fairfield Prep’s history from 1977 to 1983. As principal and head of school, Father Bowler led a reorganization of Fairfield Prep’s administrative structure, instituted its Christian service program, and implemented the “Graduate at Graduation” philosophy which was adopted by all Jesuit schools as the foundation for the mission of Jesuit education.

Fr. Jim Bowler, S.J. visited Pres. Christian Cashman in spring 2023.

Father Bowler’s commitment to Ignatian innovation, excellence, and investment in human capital and talent made a decisive impact on Fairfield Prep in an era when it was needed. As a direct response to Father General Pedro Arrupe, S.J.’s mandate that Jesuit schools re-orient themselves to educating “Men for Others,” Father Bowler instituted Fairfield Prep’s service program and made it a requirement for graduation, which was at that time a major undertaking. Father Bowler led Prep in a critical era of program development and administrative leadership, influencing the future of the school’s progress.

In addition to his theological studies as a Jesuit, he attended three extended institutes at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1984, 1987, and 1993. He served for more than 20 years in spiritual direction as director of Campion Renewal Center, executive director of the National Jesuit Retreat and Renewal Ministries, and as a staff member at Loyola House in Guelph, Ontario, where he was responsible for training and supervising spiritual directors in the Ignatian tradition before returning to Fairfield University as facilitator for Faith and Mission in 1999.

As principal and head of school, Father Bowler led a reorganization of Fairfield Prep’s administrative structure, instituted its Christian service program, and implemented the “Graduate at Graduation” philosophy which was adopted by all Jesuit schools as the foundation for the mission of Jesuit education.The most significant outgrowth of his work at Fairfield University was the creation of the Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality to make access to spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition accessible to an ever-widening number of Fairfield’s students, faculty, staff and, in cooperation with the Bridgeport Diocese and its Bishop, with its people and parishes. The Murphy Center serves the Catholic community in a welcoming and inclusive manner that respects other faith traditions as well as the searching of non-believers.

Over his impactful career, Father Bowler’s work took him from Fairfield, to Canada, to California, back to Fairfield University, and North Carolina, before he took residence at Campion Center in Weston, Mass., to continue his most beloved work as Spiritual Director and Retreat Director to generations of friends and Fairfield alumni.

Father Bowler was a close friend and spiritual director to numerous Prep alumni, faculty, and staff even into his final days at Campion Center. In his last visit to campus in 2023, Father Bowler expressed joy and even tears of consolation at how much the Jesuit charism and Ignatian spirituality imbue the everyday life of our faculty, staff, and young men. Father Jim Bowler’s impact and legacy will live on for decades to come here in Fairfield. Please join me as we pray in thanksgiving for the remarkable life and Jesuit vocation of Reverend James M. Bowler, S.J. A memorial Mass is being planned in Fairfield, Conn, later this spring, and details will follow.

In peace and consolation,

Christian J. Cashman
President


Funeral Arrangements/Memorial Mass

A Memorial Mass for Father Bowler will be celebrated on Saturday, April 13 at 4 p.m. in Egan Chapel, Fairfield University. A reception will immediately follow on campus in the Barone Campus Center Oak Room at Fairfield University.

A private funeral Mass was celebrated on March 26 at the Jesuit Campion Center in Massachusetts.

Watch MASS RECORDING

Donations may be made to Fairfield Prep’s Rev. James A. Bowler, S.J. Scholarship. Mail to Prep Development, 1073 North Benson Rd., Fairfield, CT 06824 or at www.fairfieldprep.org/give (note Fr. Bowler Scholarship).

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