excerpt taken from “Traditional Catholic and Alcoholics Anonymous” printed in the Angelus Magazine in 2002 by Sean Romer


A gentle, charming man, Fr. Dowling used A.A.’s Twelve Steps to help overcome his problems with obesity. Recognizing Ignatian components in the Steps, he sought Bill Wilson out, only to learn that Wilson had never heard of the founder of the Jesuits (Wilson had not known of the humble Sister Ignatia’s influence on Dr. Bob). Afterwards Fr. Dowling introduced Bill Wilson to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

A graduate of St. Mary’s Academy and College in St. Mary’s, Kansas, Fr. Dowling voiced the opinion that alcoholism leaves an invisible, indelible mark on the man inflicted with it, just as Holy Orders leave an invisible, indelible mark on a priest’s soul. Though Fr. Dowling encouraged Wilson to consider becoming Catholic, he never pressed the point.

A personable and humble individual, in light of some of his statements and actions, one wonders how orthodox his example could have been. There is no doubt, however, that Bill Wilson admired Fr. Dowling, with whom he took his Fifth Step.