Jesuit Father Edward F. Howard passed away on December 24, 2017, at age 85. He was born on May 25, 1932, entered the Society of Jesus at Shadowbrook, Lenox, Massachusetts, on September 7, 1951, and was ordained on June 11, 1966, at Weston College, Weston, Massachusetts. He pronounced his final vows on August 14, 1990.
Fr. Howard was born in Waterbury, Conn., one of three children of Thomas and Anna (O’Brien) Howard. After graduating from Sacred Heart High School there, in 1951, he followed a number of Jesuits from that city into the Society, entering the novitiate at Shadowbrook that year. After the juniorate he spent the usual three years studying philosophy at Weston. For regency he taught math and physics at Cheverus High School and then spent two more years teaching the same subjects at Boston College High School. While at B.C. High he is remembered for starting a freshman basketball team; with a shoestring budget they had to travel to away games using public transportation. In 1962, he returned to Weston for theology studies and was ordained to the priesthood in 1965. Tertianship followed at Pomfret, Conn. He then spent another year teaching math at Cheverus.
For the rest of his working life as a Jesuit, Fr. Howard’s priestly ministry took him to a variety of settings where needs arose or superiors asked him to go. He spent three years as an Army chaplain in Vietnam (1968-1971), where he was awarded the Bronze Star for ministering to soldiers during combat. His Army service was followed by four years as a campus minister at Georgia State University in Atlanta, while earning a master’s in education there. In 1975, he began the first of his stints in Jamaica, serving as pastor in three parishes over six years. From 1981-1984, he did parish work and served as pastor at a parish in Tulsa, Oklahoma, working as well with the Creek Indian community there. The New England Province had entered into an agreement to establish a presence in the Bahia Province of Brazil, and Fr. Howard spent three years there studying Portuguese, doing parish work and directing a parish school in Rio. This was followed by five years of pastoral work in Fresh Creek, on the largest island of the Bahamas, where a Jesuit classmate was Archbishop of Nassau. From 1992-1994, he was pastor of a parish in El Salvador. Then followed two years with the Jesuit Refugee Service working with refugees.
In 1996, he began a 10-year period of largely pastoral work in Connecticut and Vermont parishes. Subsequently, he was asked to go to Lagos, Nigeria, where he served for two years (2006-2008). Then he returned briefly to one of his former parishes in Connecticut, while earning a master’s in theology at Holy Apostles Seminary, in Cromwell, Conn. In 2011, he returned to Jamaica. The following year, he came to Campion Center, where he spent the rest of his life, helping in local parishes until his health forced his retirement.
Fr. Howard had a deep love of Jesus and wished to return to parish work in Jamaica, even while his health and mobility worsened. His interest in sports, though, never flagged. He died quietly in the early morning of Christmas Eve, 2017.