Rod Bower was adopted into a rural Hunter Valley family, then became a butcher at the age of sixteen. On impulse, this lapsed Anglican went to church one Christmas morning. ‘Something captivated me that day,’ he says. Years later, Rod was as surprised as anyone when he emerged from the seminary ready to embark on a career in the priesthood.
By 1999, just married to Kerry and now father of two teenagers, he and the family moved into the rectory in Gosford, one of the largest parishes in his Newcastle Diocese. Appointed Archdeacon of the Central Coast in 2001, Rod’s star was on the rise, only to crash to earth when he was demoted for offering pastoral care to a colleague who had stolen money from the church. Punished for offering counselling rather than seeking retribution, Rod questioned his vocation. Instead of running away, however, he stood his ground.
It is this characteristic people have responded to ever since Fr Rod Bower took to social media. His flair for one-liners and passion for social justice has seen him emerge as one of Australia’s top commentators. Clashes with political figures, like calling Peter Dutton a ‘Sodomite’ for his dehumanising treatment of Manus detainees, is all in a day’s work. His approximately 65,000 social media followers seek out his commentary on subjects such as marriage equality, asylum-seekers and other human rights issues. He has embraced the possibilities of the digital revolution, using his platform to further the sort of conversations priests have been having for centuries.