BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds gathered Wednesday to say their final goodbyes to Bishop Joseph Howze, who served as the first-ever bishop for the Biloxi Diocese and made history as the first black bishop to head a diocese in this century. Bishop Howze died Jan. 9, 2019, at the age of 95.
Visitation for Bishop Howze was Wednesday morning from 8:30-10:30, with the funeral mass beginning at 10:30 a.m. The Mass of Christian Burial was held at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Biloxi. The Biloxi diocese offered overflow seating in the Sacred Heart Center as well.
A horse and carriage took Bishop Howze’s body for interment to the new Bishops' Prayer Garden, which is located behind the Nativity Cathedral.
A Vigil for the Deceased was held Tuesday for Bishop Howze, with the homily led by Bishop Kihnemann. You can see a video of that service below:
Coming to the Biloxi Diocese in 1977 when it first formed, Bishop Howze spent 24 years leading the Coast's Catholic community. He retired in 2001.
Howze was born Aug. 30, 1923, in Daphne, Alabama, as Lawson Howze, taking the name Joseph when he converted to Catholicism in 1948.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Alabama State University in 1948. After religious training at Christ the King Seminary, St. Bonaventure University in New York, Howze was ordained a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, NC, in 1959.
Howze was ordained as a bishop in 1973 and was named Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson that same year.
In 1977, the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson was divided to become the Diocese of Jackson, comprised of the northern 65 counties of the state, and the Diocese of Biloxi, made up of the southeastern most 17 counties of Mississippi.
Howze was known for working with religious leaders of other faiths and was active in improving Catholic schools in the Diocese.