Stephen Lowe was born in Hokitika, the youngest child of Milly and Frank Lowe, with two older sisters Margaret and Dorothy.
He was educated at Hokitika Primary School, then St Mary’s Primary School and because there was no Catholic College in Hokitika he completed his secondary schooling at Westland High School.
Following school he worked for the NZ Forest Service in Hokitika and Christchurch and the NZ Timberlands in Timaru. During this time he became involved in his local parish in Timaru North where he was involved in a young adults group and with youth in the parish. In 1989 he discerned the call to priesthood and entered Holy Cross College seminary in Mosgiel in 1990. He completed his final year of seminary study at St Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia during 1994-1995. Bishop-Elect Stephen Lowe was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Christchurch in his home town at Hokitika in 1996.
He served as the assistant priest in Mairehau, Ashburton and Greymouth parishes before being appointed parish priest of Timaru North. From 2005-2007 he completed a Licence in Spiritual Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was appointed to Holy Cross Seminary in 2008 where he served as Formation Director until end of 2014. While based at the Seminary in Auckland, he served, for a time, as Parish Priest of Ponsonby.
coat of arm
The Lord is My Shepherd
The shield incorporates three principle dimensions of the life of Christ which are the doorway for us to grow in our spiritual life of Christ.
The wheat offers a rich symbol of the incarnation of Christ, his birth and his presence among us as one of us. As the wheat grows and ripens by the light and the warmth of the sun, so too the seed of faith sown in us grows and bears fruit by the light of Christ.
Surrounding the wheat the stars of Southern Cross remind us of the Paschal Mystery, Jesus’ death and resurrection. By imitating Jesus’ kenosis, his self-emptying, we die to self and rise to new life in him. It is this process of sharing the life, death and resurrection of the Lord that allows the mystery of His life to penetrate our lives.
The end of the Christian life is becoming one with the Holy Trinity and each other in the glory of heaven. We have a foretaste of this mystery of communio when we celebrate the Eucharist and this is symbolised with the white Host at the centre of the sheaf of wheat. It is marked with the letters, IHS, Iesus Hominum Salvator , "Jesus, Saviour of humanity", which is taken from the shield of Pope Francis who appointed Bishop Steve.
Above the shield is the abbatial cross of Blessed Columba Marmion who is a relation of Bishop Steve and from whom he was given his middle name.
In all these three dimensions of the spiritual life Jesus is our Shepherd who leads us, who calls us by names so that we might have life, life to the full.