For Marie Bowen’s 100th birthday on Sept. 17, she didn’t want a big fuss made, according to her daughter, Rosemarie Bowen-Lewis.
“She told me she didn’t want a big party – ‘I just want to be quiet,’ she said,” Bowen-Lewis remarked.
Marie Bowen grew up in South Carolina, moving to the Trenton area in her 20s. The newly-minted centenarian and her daughter are both parishioners in Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd Parish, Trenton, and have been since the early 1960s.
“My mother was a convert [to Catholicism],” Bowen-Lewis explained. “I was baptized in 1962, and she converted after that.”
Marie’s husband died at the age of 38, leaving her with three young children and a baby on the way; Bowen-Lewis is the second youngest of her siblings, and the children’s attendance in Catholic school was the impetus for Marie’s conversion.
“It became, ‘well, I need to take my kids to church, and where are we going to go? We need to be together,’” Bowen-Lewis said.
Marie Bowen worked as a machine operator in a Trenton factory for at least 30 years, her daughter remembered, never remarrying and raising her children on her own. She is one of eight siblings, one other of whom is still living at the age of 102.
“She still lives by herself,” Bowen-Lewis said. “She stopped driving when she was 95 … I take her to Mass now.”
Marie enjoyed being a part of the Rosary Altar Society and the women’s organization in Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd Parish, and still socializes with friends there.
“She was always very active in the community, too, in social outreach and local politics,” Bowen-Lewis attested.