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Bishop Henry Howaniec

February 14, 1931 ~ March 30, 2018 (age 87)
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Bishop Henry Howaniec

Age 87 years. Born to eternal life on Good Friday, March 30, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Retired Bishop of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Dear brother of Lorraine (Allen) Wolf and Eugene Howaniec both of the Chicago, Illinois area.

Visitation for Bishop Henry will be held on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 at St. Clare Catholic Church,  7616 Fritz Street, Wind Lake, Wisconsin from 9:30 AM until the Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 AM. Interment will be at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Provincial Cemetery in Pulaski, Wisconsin.

It was May 2, 1948 when Fr. Theophane Kalinowski, Provincial Minister received a letter from Henry Howaniec.  In the letter Henry wrote, "For a long time I have desired to become a Franciscan priest in order to work the glory of God by saving souls.  I am seventeen years old and in good health.  I am a senior at St. Joseph High School and will graduate June 6.  I belong to Sacred Heart Parish.  Please send me further information."  And so the journey began.

Henry was born February 14, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois to John and Apolonia (Zdebska) Howaniec.  He was baptized at St. Casimir Parish, Chicago on April 12, 1931 and so his life long walk with the Lord began.  He attended Sacred Heart Elementary School and St. Joseph High School, both in Chicago's Back of the Yards.

After his letter of request was received by Fr. Thepphane, Henry entered the Franciscans of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province in Pulaski, Wisconsin in 1948, receiving the religious name, Theophilus.  He professed solemn vows on August 15, 1952 and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Vincent Brizgy, the Ordinary for Lithuanians living in the United States, on June 14, 1956, at Christ the King Seminary, West Chicago, Illinois.

His first assignment following his studies at Christ the King Seminary was to the Assumption Friary, Pulaski, Wisconsin as Circulation Manager as well as professor and confessor at St. Joseph Vocational School.  In 1959, Fr. Theophane Provincial Minister, transferred Fr. Theophilus to Queen of Peace Friary, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin as assistant historian and provincial Chronicler.  During this time he pursued studies at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and was also given the option of returning to his baptismal name, Henry.  He was one of the first three members of the Sacer Recessus (contemplative House of Prayer).  In 1961 Fr. Henry assumed responsibilities as chaplain at St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay, Wisconsin and editor of Chronicle of the ABVM Province.  In 1967 Fr, Henry made his way to our General Curia, Rome, Italy where he assumed his new responsibilities in the offices of the General Sercretary, Office Protocal, and Translations.  While in Rome he studied at the Antonianum, and at the Christian Russian Center in Bergamo, Italy.

In 1993 he engaged in pastoral ministry in Almaty, the ancient capital of Kazakhstan, where five friars served the church in various activities, including pastoral care, management of an orphanage, preparation and administration of the sacraments and medical services by one friar in a small clinic.

Kazakhstan, and independent country in northwest central Asia bordering the Caspian Sea, was a constituent republic in the former Soviet Union from 1936 to 1991.

The new apostolic administration of Almaty was erected on July 7, 1999, and includes four regions: Northern Kazakhstan, Kostanay, Pavlodar and Akmola covering a territory of 576,000 square miles with a population of 4.3 million, mostly Muslims and Russian Orthodox.

Fr. Henry was named head of the Apostolic Administration of Almaty on September 26, 1999 and named Bishop of Almaty with a titular see of Acolla on October 18, 2000. On November 26, 2000 Fr. Henry Howaniec was ordained bishop of Almaty by Archbishop Arian Oles, Apostolic Nuncio to Kazakhstan in the Cathedral Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Almaty.

At his ordination as bishop, Henry wrote, "My greatest joy was the presence of five members of my home Province, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province in Pulaski, Wisconsin, came from so far away to participate in my Episcopal Ordination."  

In a letter sent to Fr. Thomas Luczak, Provincial Minister, on May 22, 2002, Bishop Henry wrote, " The Holy Father names me a spiritual shepherd of the new Almaty Apostolic Administration, and, on November 26, 2000, I was ordained a bishop. Despite this new role of service to our Universal Church, I remain a Franciscan, and pray that the Franciscan Order may some day be firmly implanted in this land."

It was due to failing health that Bishop Henry was unable to return to Almaty. His last days were spent at the Milwaukee Catholic Home were he embraced Sister Death on Good Friday, March 30, 2018.

May the soul of Bishop Henry, rest in the peace of Christ. Amen.

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