CATCHING UP: Muriel Bowen at her 100th birthday celebrations with Nellie O’Chin, one of the children Mrs Bowen helped when she was a missionary.
CATCHING UP: Muriel Bowen at her 100th birthday celebrations with Nellie O’Chin, one of the children Mrs Bowen helped when she was a missionary. Marnie Johnston

Muriel’s mission of love and light

ON MEETING Muriel Bowen, you would be forgiven for thinking she was a woman in her 80s, but in fact, on Saturday, her 100th birthday was celebrated.

More than 130 people congregated at the Alstonville Anglican Church to celebrate the centenary of Alstonville woman Mrs Bowen.

The mother of four, grandmother of seven, and great-grandmother of 13 has lived a life of selfless work, her family said.

At 21, Mrs Bowen went off and became a missionary, doing tireless, selfless work with indigenous people for 45 years all along the East Coast of Australia.

A whole table was full of indigenous people from Fingal Head who Mrs Bowen had helped when they were just children - now at her birthday party to thank her for the love and light they gave her.

A writer for the Australian Indigenous Ministries newsletter had even come from Darwin for the celebration, to tell the story of Mrs Bowen, a woman who was so involved with their mission.

After decades of missionary work ended in 1977, she and her husband Kenneth moved to Alstonville, where she lives to this day, involved with her church, Ballina Baptist Church.

Still in very good health, Mrs Bowen still lives on her own and still drives - a rarity for someone of her age.

Her 100th birthday had brought friends and relatives from all over the country and all over the world to Alstonville, leaving her speechless and a tad emotional, but she said turning 100 didn't really feel any different to any other day in her life.

"It's just the same," she laughed.

Daughter Elisabeth Dawson, from the Central Coast, said her mother was unlike anyone else.

"She has a very strong personality," Mrs Dawson said.

"She has a very strong faith in God - she trusts God to take care of all situations."

When patriarch Kenneth passed away in 1988, Mrs Bowen was the rock for the whole family, Mrs Dawson said.

"We were all falling apart - but who looked after everyone? My mother," she said.


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