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Most Reverend Joseph Oliver Bowers, SVD (Society of the Divine Word), DD

Joseph Oliver Bowers
28th March, 1910
Hampstead, Dominica


Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church
Bishop Emeritus of Accra, Ghana
Former bishop of St. Johnís-Basseterre


Mary Bowers (née Thomas) and Sheriff Montague Bowers

Sherriff, Lance, Beatrice, Lesley, Valence, and Blossom Ann (Reid)


1921–27 Dominica Grammar School, Roseau, Dominica
1928–39 St. Augustine Seminary, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, USA

1939 Bachelor of Theology, Gregorian University, Rome, Italy
1952 Licentiate in Canon Law, Rome, Italy


1927–28 Teacher, Grand Bay Government School, Grand Bay, Dominica
1939 Ordained priest, Rome, Italy; Priest in the Society of the Divine Word
1940–50 Assistant Priest, Sacred Heart Church, Accra, Ghana
Parish Priest, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Agomanya, Ghana
1952–53 Auxiliary bishop of Accra, Ghana, and Titular Bishop of Cyparissia
1953 Consecrated Bishop of Accra, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, USA
1953–71 Bishop of Accra, Ghana
1971–81 Bishop of the diocese of St. Johnís-Basseterre
1981 Retired from church office


2008 Sisserou Award of Honour Medal for faithful and dedicated service in the field of Religious Education, Roseau, Dominica
2011 State of Honour of Companion of the Order of the Volta (CV), Ghana, Africa


• He was ordained in Rome on 22nd January, 1939
• He is the first black member of the Society of the Divine Word, to be raised to the episcopacy
• The first black bishop to be ordained in the United States, since 1875
• In 1957 Bowers founded the congregation of the Sisters of the Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer (HDR) in Accra, Ghana
• In January 1958, he founded the St Johnís Seminary and College (renamed in 2012 the Pope John Senior High School and Minor Seminary)
• He established several high schools including St Peters Senior High School, Pope John Senior High School and Minor Seminary, St. Paulís Technical School, St. Roseís Senior High School, St. Maryís Senior High School,St. Monicaís Senior High School, & St. Thomas Aquinas Senior High School; as well as hospitals & clinics including St. Dominic Hospital, Holy Family Hospital & St. Martinís De Porres Hospital
• On the 16th January, 1971, he was appointed Bishop of the diocese of St. Johnís-Basseterre, which includes Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands; making him the first bishop of that diocese
• He retired from church office on 17th July, 1981
• In 1997 Bishop Bowers returned to Ghana at the invitation of the HDR Sisters, who wanted him back in Ghana so they could care for their patron in his final years
• In 2012 at the time of his death, aged 102, he was the second oldest Roman Catholic bishop and the oldest bishop from the Caribbean
• He is buried at the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Accra, Ghana, Africa


5th November, 2012
Agonmanya, Ghana, Africa