Vale, Fr Aloysious Mowe SJ

The Society mourns the death of the former director of JRS Australia.

Compiled by David McMahon, Communications Manager, Australian Jesuits

The death of Fr Aloysious Mowe SJ in Malaysia on 23 February was announced by Fr Francis Lim SJ, the Regional Superior of Malaysia-Singapore. A Memorial Mass for Fr Aloysious, a former director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia, will be held at St Canice’s in Sydney on Monday, the same church where he made his final vows on 10 March 2013. 

That day, Fr Steve Curtin SJ, the Provincial of the Australian Jesuits, presided at the Mass and received Fr Aloysious’s vows on behalf of the Superior General of the Jesuits. Seven of Fr Aloysious’ fellow Jesuits joined the parishioners of St Canice’s at the Mass.   

During his short but memorable address that day, Fr Aloysious drew the attention of the congregation to the last verse of a favourite hymn (sung during the Mass) which was written in the 17th century by Samuel Crossman. 
 
Here might I stay and sing, 
No story so divine; 
Never was love, dear King! 
Never was grief like Thine. 
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise 
I all my days could gladly spend. 

In January 2020, Fr Aloysious suffered a massive stroke while attending a JRS international meeting in Washington DC. The stroke was so acute that he lost movement on the right side of his body. Initially he was admitted to hospital in Washington and subsequently moved to a Jesuit aftercare facility in New York. In 2021, he was moved to Malaysia, where he remained with the Jesuit community in Petaling Jaya, with full assisted care until his death. 

On 19 February this year, Fr Aloysious was admitted to the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) after suffering a seizure. His condition deteriorated rapidly, with a possible lung infection and blood pressure at a low level. He passed away at UNMC on 23 February 2024. 

The same day, a statement was issued by Rev Fr Dr Clarence Devadass, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, saying: “Archbishop Julian Leow, together with the clergy and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, extend their deepest condolences to the Jesuit Community of Malaysia-Singapore and the members of the family of Rev Fr Aloysious Mowe SJ who passed away today. May Rev Fr Aloysious Mowe SJ now rest peacefully in the arms of Jesus Christ, whom he served faithfully as a priest. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Rev 21:4)  

The interment of his ashes was carried out on 28 February at the columbarium wall of the parish of St Francis Xavier, Petaling Jaya by Fr Chris Wee SJ, the Local Superior, at a ceremony attended by members of the Jesuit community, as well as Fr Aloysious’s mother and sister. 

Adelaide-based Fr Chris Horvat SJ said: “Aloysious was a brilliant speaker and he always made a profound impression on people when talking to them about refugees.” This passion was reflected strongly in a Eureka Street article he wrote in February 2015, which carried the headline Destroying refugee policy shames Australia. 

In it, he wrote: “What are the limits on our generosity, and what are we willing to forego so that those more vulnerable than us may thrive? I write, as it happens, on Ash Wednesday, the start of our annual Lenten observance, when once again we are invited to reflect in prayer and re-enact in ritual the central mystery of the Christian story: that God’s love for us is so great that he became like us, as vulnerable as we are; and that he lived that vulnerability to the point of great suffering and death for our sake.  

“When it comes to asylum seekers, what would it mean for us in Australia to give until it hurts? If everything in the gospel tells us that we should not cling to our comforts and riches when others are in need, what then is God telling us to do when faced with asylum seekers coming to our shores? 

“Australia’s response should shame us. Its treatment of asylum seeker children demands a reckoning. If those in government who perpetrated these cruelties do not acknowledge the mistakes made, and if Australia allows those responsible to act with impunity, then this country puts itself in danger of losing its soul, just as so many in public office act and speak so as to appear already to have lost theirs. ‘For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world’ … ?” 

After serving as director of JRS Australia, Fr Aloysious spent three years (2017-2020) in the role of Director of Advocacy and Communications at the International Office of JRS Rome. 

Coverage of the Memorial Mass for Fr Aloysious will be published on this website. 

This photograph and the one below were taken at St Canice’s Church in Sydney on 10 March 2013, when Fr Aloysious made his final vows. In the image below, Fr Aloysious is flanked by Fr Steve Curtin SJ (left) and Fr Mark Raper SJ. Photos: Fr Nico Lariosa SJ

Banner image of candles by Muenz, Canva.