Tributes

The Revd John Conrad Howells

October 26 2016The Revd John Conrad Howells died on 20 September 2016 after a period of illness.

He was ordained deacon in the Diocese of Melbourne in 1960 and priest in 1961, also in Melbourne.

His ministries included Curate St John Malvern East 1960-61; Curate Mitcham 1961-62; Minister Nunawading 1962-66; Incumbent West Footscray 1966-70; Curriculum Officer Council for Christian Education in Schools 1970-73; Assistant Curate Ivanhoe East 1970-79; Director Council for Christian Education in Schools 1973-82; Incumbent Ringwood 1982-89; Area Dean Croydon 1985-89; Vicar St Stephens Mt Waverley 1989-95; On Missionary Service in PNG 1995-96.

He retired in Melbourne in 1996 and received the Archbishop’s Permission to Officiate.

Preaching at his funeral, which was held at St John’s Camberwell on 26 September, the Revd Jim Pilmer reflected on Mr Howells’ love and knowledge of the arts. He said Mr Howells had recently published a book called My Gallery, describing six Australian paintings hanging in the home of Mr Howells and his wife Helen.

“The text which accompanies each painting shows John’s gift of being able to see into an image, to look beneath the surface and to not be hoodwinked by the literal or superficial,” he said.

“Such insight came from his understanding of symbolism, metaphor, and a natural quest for meaning, which he placed fairly and squarely in the context of the Christian faith.”

He said he had come to know Mr Howells more closely in retirement than he did during their active ministries, largely through their sharing in a regular clergy lunch group.

He said: “It’s in such times of hospitality, social interaction and reflecting on each other’s experiences that one gains insight into one’s friends which might not otherwise be revealed in the more fleeting acquaintances of day to day ministry.

“At such times together John shared his humour, his theology and insights into both life and ministry.”

In her eulogy, Mr Howells’ eldest daughter Clair Howells described her father as “erudite and an original thinker — I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who had such an extraordinary range of knowledge: the arts, history, philosophy, music, politics, science.”

She said that his career as a priest was “at the heart of his life” and that he was “guided by integrity, truthfulness and principles of goodness in his relationships to people. He was fearless and did not shy from conflict for matters that were important to him. He spoke up for what he believed.”

We give thanks to God for the life and ministry of the Reverend John Howells, and pray for Helen and his family at this time.

The full text of the Revd Jim Pilmer's sermon can be found here. Clair Howells' eulogy can be found here.