Rev. David W. Howell
February 6, 1940 - April 4, 2013
Fr. David W. Howell, former pastor of St. Joseph Parish in South Norwalk, died on April 4 in Stamford Hospital. He was 73 years old.
“He had a tremendous mind, and he was interested in everything,” says his close friend, Msgr. William Scheyd, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, who had known him since childhood. “He had a great interest in current events. He was following the news even in the hospital, right up until he closed his eyes for the last time.”
A native of Bridgeport, he graduated from St. Ann School in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport and Fairfield Prep. Fr. Howell credits his vocation to the priesthood both to the priests he knew at St. Ann’s, where he was an altar boy, and the Jesuits at Prep. He attended the Jesuit-run Holy Cross College in Worchester, MA, and completed his theological studies at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, MD. He was ordained on May 22, 1965 at St. Augustine Cathedral by Bishop Walter W. Curtis.
His first assignment was as parochial vicar of St. Stephen Parish in Trumbull. While there, he was also a member of the faculty of St. Joseph High School in Trumbull. He served at St. Mary Parish, Greenwich; St. Joseph Parish, Shelton; and St. Cecilia Parish in Stamford before coming to St. Joseph’s as a parochial vicar. He was named temporary administrator in 1979. He served as a territorial vicar, was member of the Diocesan Priests’ Council from 1982-83, and was appointed as auditor-instructor in the diocesan tribunal in 1983.
Always interested in aircraft, Fr. Howell became chaplain of the Civil Air Patrol in 1967. He became chaplain of the International Order of Characters (IOC), an organization dedicated to improving the fields of aviation and aerospace, in 1975. Following his appointment to St. Joseph’s, he also became a chaplain to the Norwalk Fire Department and was on the Norwalk Catholic Charities board.
“The ICO was his favorite,” says his sister, Donna Kelly. He wasn’t a pilot, she says, “but he did drive fast!”
Fr. Howell was appointed pastor of St. Joseph’s on June 25, 1986. He remained at the parish until failing health necessitated his retirement in 2008.
He particularly enjoyed the rich mix of cultures at St. Joseph’s, which celebrates Mass in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. In addition, the parish is enriched by the large number of English-speaking parishioners who come from India. “One of the high points of my priesthood has been the opportunity to see the diversity of cultures that come together in worship,” he said at the time of his retirement.
He lived at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence Stamford from his retirement until the time of his death.
Fr. Howell’s body will be received into St. Joseph Church on Sunday, April 7 at 4 pm. The Parish Vigil Mass will take place at 7 pm. Fr. Gilbert D’Souza, current pastor of St. Joseph’s, will be the celebrant. Fr. John Baran, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fairfield who served as a parochial vicar under Fr. Howell, will be the homilist. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Fr. Howell on Monday, April 8, at 10:30 am. Msgr. Jerald A. Doyle, diocesan administrator, will be the principal celebrant. Msgr. Scheyd will deliver the homily.
After a brief reception, burial will follow in the family plot in St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford.
Survivors include his sister; Donna Kelly and her husband, Jay, of Bluefield, Virginia; two nieces: Kyle Thomas and her husband, Richard, of Max Meadows, VA; and Elizabeth Branner and her husband, Rod, of Harrisonburg, VA; Donna’s grandchildren: Kelly Thomas, Coleman Thomas, Brooke Branner and Abigail Branner; and Fr. Howell’s life-long friend, Msgr. William J. Scheyd. He was predeceased by his parents: William and Jeanette Kondrat Howell.
Condolences may be sent to Fr. Howell’s sister, Donna Kelly, 644 Sedgewren Street, Bluefield, VA 24605. Memorial contributions are requested to Queen of Clergy Residence, 274 Strawberry hill Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902.
Pat Hennessy ‘Fairfield County Catholic’