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Remembering Patrick J. Howell, S.J.

12/02/2019 8:02 AM | Anonymous

The text for Patrick J. Howell, S.J.'s memorial below is a slightly edited version of a memoriam notice that was sent out to the Gonzaga University community.

The CTSA remembers its member, Rev. Patrick J. Howell, S.J., who died Thursday, November 28, 2019, at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.  Pat, who re-joined Gonzaga University in the Office of Mission and Ministry this past August, learned that he had lung cancer not long after moving to Spokane, and, even as he was facing the physical and emotional challenges of his illness, was insistent upon keeping this quiet and focusing instead on the work of intellectual engagement, mission formation, and pastoral ministry.  Even in that short time, Pat contributed significantly to the life of the university, developing several formation programs for faculty and staff. Just two weeks ago he delivered a well-attended lecture on the theological and pastoral vision of Pope Francis.

A native of North Dakota and one of nine children, Pat graduated from Gonzaga University in 1961 before entering the Society of Jesus.  In the 1960’s he served as Academic Vice Principal (and subsequently, Principal) at Jesuit High in Portland and, among many other assignments was Principal at Gonzaga Prep during the early 1980’s.  After earning a doctorate in Pastoral Theology, he took up a fulltime faculty position in the Department of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University in 1986, where he was based until this fall (2019).  Across time, Pat served in a number of administrative and academic positions at Seattle U, including as the inaugural Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry, Vice President for Mission and Ministry, and Distinguished Professor of Pastoral Theology.  He wrote many articles and book chapters and gave many presentations throughout the country on pastoral theology, sacramental theology, the theology of Vatican II, Pope Francis, and contemporary Catholicism, and the integration of spirituality and psychology.  He was the author of three books, including Great Risks had to be Taken: The Jesuit Response to the Second Vatican Council, 1958-2018, published this year. In 2013, Pat was a member of the team of translators who translated Antonio Spadaro’s groundbreaking interview with Pope Francis, A Big Heart Open to God, from Italian into English for America magazine, where he was serving as an editor during a sabbatical. Pat was for many years involved with Conversations magazine and served as chair of the National Seminar in Jesuit Higher Education.

Eternal rest grant unto Patrick, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May Patrick's soul and all the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, 
rest in peace.


  • 12/02/2019 9:39 AM | Paul F Lakeland
    Pat Howell was an occasional but always inspiring presence in my life, from the time he invited me to speak at Gonzaga during his tenure as Dean of the School of Theology and ministry. A man of great warmth and profound humility, a great Jesuit, I admired him immensely and I will miss his presence, even all the way from East Coast to West.
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    • 12/02/2019 12:55 PM | Rev Thomas P Rausch SJ
      In his long and distinguished life as a Jesuit Pat was an ecumenist of great merit. He was instrumental in setting up the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, one of the most successful ecumenical programs hosted by a single institution. His book, Great Risks Had to be Taken, is a fascinating memoir of his experience in the Post-Vatican II Church and Society of Jesus.
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  • 12/02/2019 1:08 PM | William George
    I was saddened and shocked to learn of Pat Howell's death, but I feel so blessed to have known this wise, gentle, compassionate, and profoundly spiritual man. Many years ago, after I had returned from Zambia, Pat and I hiked together in a place called Denny Creek not far from Seattle. As we hiked towards the end of the trail, which seemed ever farther away, I told him about a Tonga phrase I had often heard: "Tuyanda kusika"--"We are about to arrive," often said, I found, when the destination was still a ways off. Pat found great humor in that. Now, I rejoice that, indeed, Pat has arrived--after walking so well, so long, and so lovingly with the many people whose lives he touched over the years.
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  • 12/02/2019 5:01 PM | Christopher Hadley SJ
    I have known Pat for over 20 years, since the time I was applying for admission to the Society of Jesus. He is one of my inspirations for joining. Success as a Jesuit and a theologian appear to me in terms determined largely by who Pat was as a person: passionate for God, humble, kind, supportive, truthful, and prayerful.
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  • 12/02/2019 7:26 PM | B. Kevin Brown
    I only met Pat this past August when we both moved into our new offices next door to one another. But in the four months we worked together, I came to know Pat as a friend. His wisdom was a grace to Gonzaga and to me personally. As others have written here, he was a model theologian, ecumenist, and educator in the Jesuit tradition. I learned a great deal from him and am incredibly grateful to have been formed by him, even in the short time I knew him.
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  • 12/02/2019 8:49 PM | Dung Q. Tran
    Several years (and faculty appointments) ago, I had the privilege of team-teaching an undergraduate hybrid course on Ignatian Spirituality with Pat for the Adult and Continuing Education School at Seattle University. At every stage in the process - from co-authoring the course proposal, to shepherding it through the layers of core curriculum review, lesson planning, assessing assignments, and actually co-facilitating the class - Pat was the consummate theological educator and colleague, modeling an appropriate mix of intellect, humility, wit, and wisdom. Many of the adult students in our class, especially those who self-identified as former Catholics, noted how Pat's "way" as a professor embodied the very best of what a living Catholic Christian theological tradition could be. More recently, Pat concretized his generous way by hosting my wife and me for several meals at the Della Strada Jesuit Community to help welcome us to Gonzaga University. Rest in paradise, Pat. Through your life-affirming leadership across time, space, and place, you left an indelible mark on the hearts of many. I am deeply grateful to be among them.
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  • 12/02/2019 9:28 PM | Thomas J Massaro SJ
    The half-dozen previous posters beat me to all the good adjectives that aptly describe Pat Howell. To repeat just two: gracious and inspiring--all the time! I had the pleasure of serving three years with him on the editorial board of the journal "Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits". Our semi-annual meetings were always better for Pat's presence and contributions. I recall especially fondly a meeting he hosted at Seattle University, and the hospitality he showed to his colleagues was extraordinary. There is no need to search for a secret ingredient explaining Pat's exemplary Christian life. He simply loved God and others, and allowed that love to shine through in his life of dedication and generosity. May he rest in peace.
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  • 12/11/2019 9:29 AM | Anonymous
    Pat was a frequent guest here at Santa Clara through the years and in the course of that time I was one of many to whom he gave the gift of his smile and his kindness. I greatly admired his writings on his own suffering. His death came as a sad blow. I will truly miss him.
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