To say the number seven has been significant in Rev. Peter J. Gower’s life would be an understatement.
For example, the Our Lady of Grace pastor was born on seventh hour of the seventh day in 1957 and the seventh child who just so happens to have seven sisters.
So it’s no wonder “a marvelous man” Father Gower has been friends with for 42 years organized a rather special celebration in honor of the popular priest’s 60th birthday that was held last Friday night – 07-07-17 – inside packed function room at Silvia’s Restaurant on Greenville Avenue in Johnston.
Years ago, that man was simply known as David LiPuma, now he’s Monsignor David LiPuma who is now based in New York, put together a list of 142 who have been both faithful and supportive of Father Gower ever since he was ordained in 1984 Bishop Louis Gelineau at the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul in Providence.
“The whole night was a great surprise,” Father Gower said after thanking people for attending the fun-filled birthday bash. “It was wonderful reconnecting with so many special people in my life.”
However, as the OLG priest said, “Monsignor LiPuma, recognizing that life is fragile, decided to celebrate my 60th birthday by inviting friends and parishioners from every parish that I’ve served in the Diocese of Providence. It was a great sampling those wonderful people.”
Father Gower was also the recipient of a very special gift that the Roman Catholic priest said was “receiving the key to the city from the mayor was a great honor for truly after 33 years of the priesthood and now serving at Our Lady of Grace is special for me and I love the town of Johnston.”
Mayor Joseph Polisena, who has developed what he called “a valuable friendship with this very special man – and priest – Father Peter Gower”, not only presented the OLG pastor with a gold key to Johnston, he came armed to the birthday party with an Official Commendation that read, in part: “It is with great pleasure to extend warm wishes to you upon your 60th birthday. I would like to respect the hope for our continued health and well-being, now and in the years to come.”
Several people like OLG staffers Joe Andreozzi, Joe Quartino and Paul Goulet noted, “Although Father Gower’s tenure at Our Lady of Grace is shorter than other parishes where he has served, he has developed a loyal legion of followers like he did at four other parishes in Rhode Island.”
Father Gower is a native of Barrington and attended St. Luke’s School and Our Lady of Providence Seminary High School in Providence. He studied for the priesthood at Wadham’s Hall Seminary College in New York and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. He later received a Masters of Divinity Degree at St. John’s Seminary in Massachusetts.
Prior to OLG, Father Gower was the assistant pastor at St. Aidan in Cumberland and eight years later he as assigned to St. Ann in Providence. In 1965 he became assistant pastor and later an administrator of St. Raymond’s Parish in Providence before moving on as pastor at St. Mary of the Bay in Warren where he served for 12 years.
“Now, thank God, he’s home here at Our Lady of Grace,” said Andreozzi, who has been a faithful and loyal volunteer at the Johnston parish. “Everyone here loves Father Gower.”
Perhaps that’s why Monsignor LiPuma, who mixed some quick wit with a few brief yet memorable stories about his long-lasting friendship with Father Gower, said “Father Gower has always gone above and beyond for everyone connected with his life.”