IN rain-drenched central Brisbane, and amongst “joyful family and friends”, Bishop Ken Howell has been ordained as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Brisbane at a packed St Stephen’s Cathedral.
Bishops, archbishops and vicars general, parishioners and friends from around Australia attended the episcopal ordination for the locally born priest who until recently ran the country’s largest Catholic parish at Burleigh Heads.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge ordained Bishop Howell, saying during his homily that Bishop Howell will always have to be a man that listens to the truth, “because if ever the listening should cease, Ken would have nothing to say”.
“You can have all the trappings of episcopal office – titles, vestments, bling and big hats – but what worthless babbles they are if there is not that deep and ceaseless listening to the truth in that silent and empty place from which the precursor always comes,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
Born in 1958, Bishop Howell graduated from St James College before entering Pius XII Seminary at Banyo in 1977.
He was ordained in 1983 but also earned a Licentiate in Sacred Liturgy from the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in Rome in 1997.
He previously served as a secretary to Archbishop John Bathersby and was St Stephen’s Cathedral dean.
Addressing those present, including his mother Betty Howell, and many parishioners who arrived by bus from Burleigh Heads, Bishop Howell said his parents and family had been a constant in his life, and an ever-increasing source of blessing.
“Our extended family and relations have added rich texture to the story, and the many, many friends that I have been privileged to come to know and love, add both joy and strength to one’s life story,” Bishop Howell said.
“As a minister of the Gospel, I must mention those that have travelled a similar path, and thank them for their encouragement and belief in me.
“Those who were at the seminary with me and those who taught and formed me. Those who were ordained with me and the priests who have been my companions over these 34 years.
“Those who were my pastors and those who assisted me in my various pastoral appointments and roles, and those who have lived the faith and now rest in the peace of the God they loved and served.
“As I look out over the vast congregation today, I recognise so many who have been a part of my story, relatives, friends, priests and bishops, parishioners, especially from Burleigh Heads and this Cathedral parish, who have given me every reason to be joyful in my service of the Lord.”
As a gesture of close Christian relations, the Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta, previously an assistant bishop in Brisbane, John Parkes, assisted in presenting Bishop Howell’s mitre.
“My warmest greetings to our ecumenical friends and thank them for their presence, as we hold the vision of a unified church,” Bishop Howell said.
Bishop Howell’s Coat of Arms bears the Latin motto Parare Vias Eius – Prepare His Ways.
He has adopted as his arms elements derived from the arms of the families of Howell of Northamptonshire, Suffolk and Warwickshire and which brings to the fore the theme of the light in the darkness which comes from the cross.
As Bishop Howell was ordained a priest on the feast of the birth of St John the Baptist, he has personalised these arms by the addition of a scallop shell with three drops of water referencing John the Baptist and the sacrament of Baptism and the first call to follow Christ.
In addition to assisting the Archbishop in Brisbane, Bishop Howell has taken on the Titular See of Thamugadi, a defunct diocese located in what is now modern day Algeria.