A Striking Tribute to Father Howell

Taken from the Middlesex Chronicle, 22nd September 1934
(source: Andrew Rampling)

Heston's First Catholic English Parish Priest Since The Reformation.

Father Alfred Howell, who has relinquished the duties of Superior of the White Fathers and Rector of the Parish of Our Lady Queen of Apostles, Heston, to proceed to the missionary field in Africa, was the recipient of farewell presentations on Sunday evening, when striking tributes were paid to his work and personal popularity.

Father Howell is succeeded by Father Bernard Thomas Brown, D.D. as Superior of the White Fathers, and by Father Owen McCoy as the Parish Priest of Heston.

There was a crowded congregation at the church on Sunday evening, at which Father Howell was celebrant. Father Brown, deacon, and Father Liebst (Superior of the White Fathers in Germany), sub Deacon. The Rector of the church St Lawrence of Feltham, Rev. W. J. Wood, gave the address, in which he emphasized, that from the beginning the Catholic Church had been a missionary Society. He urged that the presence in this district of the White Fathers, constituting a reservoir of missionary devotion and enterprise, should bring home to the Catholics of the neighbourhood a new sense of responsibility in supporting foreign missions.

After the service the large assembly adjoined to the Parish Hall. Here Father Brown presided, and others on the platform included Fathers Howell, McCoy, Liebst, Muller, Groshenri (of Uganda), and Ward (Southall). Mrs L. Titcomb (Vice President of the Legion Of Mary), Councilior. J. Woulfe, and Messrs J.I. Macquire (choir master), W.P.Connelly (Secretary, Guild of the Blessed Sacrament), Dudley Felton (President, Heston Conference of St Vincent De Paul Society), H. Daborn (President, Heston Catholic Dramatic Society), and J.H. Renton.

Father Brown said this was rather a sad occasion for there were few things in life so hard as parting with a Priest, who had devoted his whole energy to the work of a Parish. It was a veritable uprooting. They all wished to express their deep gratitude to Father Howell for the work he had done, and to give him tangible proof of their appreciation. They knew how he continued the work started by Father Laane, and how he developed it until the present time. THEY COULD SAY HE HAD MADE A MODEL ENGLISH PARISH.

There were present, that evening representatives of the numerous parochial associations, which he had either founded or developed, but far greater than all that evidence of a wonderful talent for organisation, the personal touch- the kind and cheering word they had all received from Father Howell.

In connection with his departure it was a consoling thought, that though some three or four thousand miles would separate them from him, that separation would only be a material one, for it took more than mere space to separate souls. He would be living in their thoughts and affections, and he (Father Brown) was sure, that the Catholics of Heston would be living in the thoughts of Father Howell (applause).


Father McCoy, who has succeeded Father Howellas parish priest, said Father Brown had stated, that they now had a model English Parish, and he could say without any exaggeration, that they had, had a MODEL ENGLISH PARISH PRIEST (applause).

Father Howell had done untold good for the souls of Heston, and though he had been parish priest for only three years, it would be seen from the results, that he had done work, WHICH NORMALLY WOULD TAKE PERHAPS THIRTY YEARS.

When the White Fathers came to the district there were very few Catholics in Heston; today they numbered almost 400. That was certainly due to the great work of Father Howell (applause). First of all he founded in the parish, the Legion of Mary, whereby many souls had been brought back to God. He next instituted the Guild of the Blessed Sacrament and then the St Vincent De Paul Society, and the great objective for, which he worked was attained in the building of the Parish Hall. A HALL THAT WAS THE TALK OF THE DISTRICT (applause). Following the erection of the hall he organised a Dramatic Society as a means of keeping young people together, and also founded the children's Legion of Mary, and a boy's club.

Father McCoy went on to say, in the very important charge he was taking over as parish priest he was able to enter upon the task with courage because of the guidance he had received from Father Howell. When he came to Heston he was a "BABY" in parochial affairs, and he now desired to thank Father Howell for all the training he had done in training him for parish work.

With regard to the presentation consisting of an artistically executed address accompanied by a cheque for £30. Father McCoy mentioned, that Father Howell had done a lot of work for the White Sisters, and that the latter in appreciation of his kindness, had undertaken the preparation of the address, which he proceeded to read as follows :e celebrations of midnight mass at the new chapel of the White Fathers.

"To the Very Rev. Father Howell, Superior of the White Fathers and Rector of Our Lady Queen of Apostles, Heston. Dear, Father, The Catholics of Heston and many other friends unite this evening to show their appreciation for the magnificent work you have done for them and also to wish you success in your new work amidst the natives of Africa. They earnestly hope, that you may be spared many years to labour for souls in that far distant Africa.

You first came to Heston in 1929, but it was not unti/1931, that you were appointed parish priest to continue the work started by Father Laane. They rejoiced at your appointment, for they saw in you the first English parish priest in Heston since the Reformation.

Although you have been in charge only three years, you have accomplished great work. The Catholic faith in Heston has grown rapidly, and the spiritual welfare of the Catholics has been fostered by the numerous associations you have founded. For instance The Legion of Mary, The Guild of the Blessed Sacrament, The St Vincent Dr Paul Society, and the boy's club. The building of the Parochial Hall is perhaps your masterpiece, and it will remain as a monument to your memory. Innumerable, dear father, are the graces, benefits, and joys, which you have brought upon all.

As a mark of appreciation your parishioners and friends, beg you to accept this address, and the accompanying testimonial of their gratitude. May God bless you always, and wherever you go may they be remembered in your prayers".

The address was signed by Father Brown, Father McCoy, and representatives of the various organisations in the parish. Father McCoy made the presentation amidst loud applause.

Councillor Woulfe said the Catholics of Heston sincerely hoped, that this was not a final farewell, and that Father Howell would return to them. In the Borough of Heston and Isleworth, Father had made the name CATHOLIC a name to be proud of. He had made many friends with the Civic authorities to such an extent, that they had come to honour him very much.

The Mayor and Mayoress had asked him (Mr Woulfe) to convey to Father Howell their very kind regards and their hopes for his success in hIs missionary work. The speaker added, that he thought Heston Catholics had just cause to be proud of their parish, and their pride was merely a reflection of Father Howell's work. They wished him God speed and success. (Applause)

Father Howell, who received a most enthusiastic ovation, spoke of the excitement he experienced at the realisation of his desire to go out to foreign mission work. In the speeches he said, credit had been given to him for most of the things, that had been done at Heston. Father Laane placed the foundations there, and above all, he placed in the hearts of the people a very deep love for the White Fathers. In Father Hughes he (the speaker) had a most devoted collaborator from, whose brain and zeal came much of the work for, which he (Father Howell) had been given credit. Father Mc Coy had the rather formidable task of taking the place of Father Hughes, when the latter left and he the (speaker) had constantly thanked God for giving him "THAT BABY". (laughter).

It was a tremendous consolation to be able to tell Father Brown, that he could not have a more loyal or devoted assistant (Applause). He felt, that after mentioning the work of Fathers Laane, Hughes and McCoy, there was very little that he could take credit. At the same time he could certainly claim credit, for the desire, that the Lord Jesus Christ should be established and extended in the hearts of all the souls, whom God had given into his charge at Heston.

Expressing his gratitude for the cheque he had received, Father Howell said this was going to be wonderfully useful, and the subscribers would be glad to know, that it would be used in the service of their Lord Jesus Christ. He also acknowledged a presentation of a crucifix and candle sticks from the children's Legion of Mary. He had never envied any other priest, and would not have changed his people for any other in the world. He was handing over to his successor, a great, precious, and glorious legacy- a loyal, holy and devoted people- and for the people- he was leaving a loyal, holy, and devoted priest. He asked them to pray for all the missionaries, who had passed through Heston, and he assured the parishioners, that he would remember them until the end of his life.

He was very sorry indeed to leave Heston. He had spent a serene, happy and glorious time here — so happy that he did not think it possible for him ever to be happy again. Nothing could have been done without the collaboration, generous response and devotion of the parishioners, and he prayed, that God would continue to bless them (Applause).

Father Brown thanked all those, who had assisted in promoting the testimonial, and the function ended with a farewell blessing by Father Howell, who afterwards shook hands with those present as they left the Hall.

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