FR CLIFFORD Howell SJ who died on Sunday could look back on a lifetime of service to the Church. particularly in the field of liturgy which, at the end of 1979, earned him a letter of congratulation from the bishops of England and Wales.
In the last year or two of his life he was weakened by emphysema but remained active in corresponding all over the world and writing articles on the liturgy. One of his last articles, on the Eucharist, appeared a few months ago • in the Catholic Herald.
This ended many years of close co-operation between Fr Howell and the Herald which informed the work of both. When 25 years ago the Holy Week liturgy .was reformed by Pope Pius XII, it was Fr Howell who was chosen to write a thousand word explanation of the new rites on the front page of the Herald.
Though he had always been anxious to stay within the laws of the Church, he often found his way blocked by bishops who could no( .:ee the need for
change. "In England in 1935 the Sunday Mass had a very dull man bumbling away like a bluebottle at one end of the Church, while the people sat like sacks of potatoes, At the end of' his life all this had changed. and some of the changes could be attributed to him.
Clifford Howell was born in Handsworth, Birmingham in 1902 and finished his education at Stonyhurst. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1919 and obtained an MSc from London University as well as studying at Heythrop.
• Ordained in 1934, he served at the Holy Name, Manchester and during the War as a chaplain. In 1947 he finished a short spell as Superior of Loyola Hall, Warrington and joined a mission team. For the next 30 years his travels widened the influence of his pastoral message of the liturgical reform.
The best known of his several books is The Work of Our Redemption first published in 1953. He also translated and edited many official liturgical documents and liturgical commentaries,