Fr Ted Bowling SJ is a 92 year old American Jesuit missionary of Patna province. He did his master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Detroit, U.S.A. He was the professor of “Basic Science and Scientific Questions connected with philosophy” at JDV, Pune. He was the director of institute for Home study. He was a great apostle of ecology. Presently he is a resident of DNC Jesuit community, Pune.
- Your inspiration to become a Jesuit?
The thought of becoming a priest came to my mind when I was an altar boy and during my personal devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. When I was in 10th Std my teacher asked all the boys in the class to write him a letter about our future plan and I wrote about my desire of becoming a priest. He guided me for the next 2 years. In my 12th Std I was fond of chemistry and thought of exploring the possibility of becoming a chemistry teacher. Later I came across a Jesuit priest from whom I learned that I could be both a soldier of Christ and a teacher of chemistry. I lived this vocation in my Jesuit life.
- Your inspiration for coming to India?
I came to know about American Jesuits working in the Patna region only after I joined the Novitiate. I was inspired by reading reports of their work. I thought, perhaps I would also be happy there. Perhaps I could walk in the footstep of Francis Xavier and continue to work like him. After finishing my master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Detroit, U.S.A, I volunteered for India.
- You have become an inspiration for all of us. Can you think of something you loved doing as a Jesuit?
I cherished doing ordinary things with great enthusiasm. During my master’s studies I enjoyed my studies but I was also helpful in the community by reading from a book to the community during meal time, by setting up altars at 5.30 am where priests could say individual mass, assisting staff members by car to places they needed to go, caring for the sick, preparing the community recreation, etc.
- Can you think of some moments or experiences that seemed like a great challenge during your life in the Society?
A great challenge came to me in 1959, two years after I began teaching at JDV. At that time Fr.Peter Sontag SJ, an American Patna Jesuit, was spiritual director at DNC. He was also the founder, in Patna, of the institute for Home study which he brought with him to Pune. I was asked to take over the institute when he had a serious heart attack in 1959. It was a correspondence course on the life and teachings of Jesus for the people of another faith.
- Your experience as a teacher at JDV?
I always enjoyed teaching “Basic Science and Scientific Questions connected with philosophy”, but especially the demonstrations of principles of science in the class room and during recreation time after supper. One subject that another staff member and I thought for 12 years with inputs from doctors, nurses and married couples was always overcrowded. The title of the course was “Psycho-biology of human sexuality”.
- You have been a great apostle of ecological issues. What are some of your anxieties and hopes in this regard?
I have often read in the newspapers how eager institutions and the government are to plant thousands of saplings at the beginning of the monsoon. But I don’t remember reading in any newspaper about who will water or nurture the saplings so that they thrive. I am anxious about that.
- Your message for Jesuit scholastics in formation?
Pick a goal, or accept a goal set by your superior, and persevere in fulfilling it.
By Sch. Dolwin Cutinha SJ