1931 – 2011 (November 27)
Bernard Joseph O'Dowd was born on August 23, 1931, in West Brighton, Staten Island, New York, the son of Bernard Denis O’Dowd and Mary Ellen Tallon. He had two sisters, Angela and Mary Ellen and two brothers, Thomas and John. He was baptized on September 6, 1931, at Sacred Heart Church, Staten Island, and attended Sacred Heart Parish School and, from 1945 to 1949, Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, the last year of which he was a postulant. He was received as a novice on September 9, 1949, and after a year at Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York, professed simple vows on September 10, 1950. He then attended Villanova University, professed solemn vows on September 10, 1953, and received a BA in Philosophy in 1954. He pursued theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, DC, and was ordained to the priesthood on February 8, 1958, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, by Bishop John McNamara.
Father O’Dowd, or Father Bernie as he was known within the community, was assigned to teach at Msgr. Bonner High School, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, in 1958. From 1960 to 1962 he served in parochial ministry at Our Mother of Consolation Parish, Chestnut Hill, PA, St. Augustine Parish and St. Laurence O'Toole Parish in Lawrence, Massachusetts. From 1962 to 1966 he was assigned to St. John of Sahagun Friary and taught at Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington, DC. From 1966 to 1968, he taught at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine High School, Bronx, New York. From 1968 to 1971 he was military chaplain in the United States Army in Vietnam. In 1971 he was assigned to Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Staten Island, returned to Msgr. Bonner High School in 1973, and in 1974, became a member of the community at St. Laurence O'Toole Parish, Lawrence, while serving as chaplain at the Lawrence General Hospital, until 1975. Father O’Dowd subsequently ministered at St. Mary Parish, Waterford, New York, at St. Thomas of Villanova Parish, Rosemont, Pennsylvania, and at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1996, he was assigned to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova.
Father O’Dowd suffered from kidney disease in his later years, to such a degree that a transplant donor was sought, but never found. Instead, a long period of dialysis treatment followed, but in an unusual turn of events, his condition improved and the treatments were able to be discontinued.
After a fall in the monastery, Father Bernie was rushed to Bryn Mawr Hospital where he died on Sunday morning, November 27, 2011.