Remembering Bishop Howze

Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze played a key role in establishing the Diocese of Biloxi back in 1977, serving as their first bishop for 24 years. Howze passed away this morning at Ocean Springs Hospital at the age of 95.

Bishop Louis Kihneman delivered mass with a heavy heart, honoring friend Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze. The current bishop pays his tribute to the man who started it all. “Bishop Howze had to begin everything from the ground up and he’s the one that really set the table.”

Howze was born in Daphne, Alabama and was one of four children. After serving as a pastor in North Carolina for 13 years, Howze was appointed by Pope Paul VI as the auxiliary bishop of Natchez-Jackson Diocese in 1972, later being ordained as bishop the following year.

In 1977, Howze was once again appointed as bishop, but this time it would be here in South Mississippi at the newly established Diocese of Biloxi. Howze became the first African-American in the 20th century to head a diocese in the United States. “It really was a new beginning for the church in the area, but also for all of us in Mississippi,” said Bishop Kihneman.

Howze was always focused on improving the diocese. He was responsible for building the Biloxi Diocese’s main building.

Howze served for 24 years, retiring in 2001 at the age of 77. Despite retiring, Howze continued to find ways to stay involved with the very diocese he helped develop. “Always very, very interested in the community, very interested in the state, very interested in the country and the world and what’s going on and very much engaged. Even towards the end, he was very sharp.”

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, January 15th at the Cathedral of the Nativity from 5 to 8 p.m., a mass of Christian burial will be held on Wednesday, January 16th at 10:30 a.m. with visitation before.

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