The Cathedral Church of St. John


December 12, 2010 Announcements


From the Dean


Many will know that the first Bishop of the Missionary District of New Mexico and Southwest Texas was the Right Reverend Frederick B. Howden. The Altar here at the Cathedral is erected in the memory of Bishop Howden’s daughter, Angelica Constance. Bishop Howden’s son, Frederick, Jr., known as “Ted,” also became an Episcopal priest and served for a time as Rector of St. Andrew’s Church in Roswell. It was from that cure that he was called to service in World War II. Below is a brief biography of Fr. Ted Howden, provided for reflection as yesterday, December 11, was the day of his death. The Diocese of the Rio Grande has put forward a resolution to the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church formally to recognize Fr. Howden in its Lesser Feasts and Fasts.


Last Spring, I had the great honour of being the honorary Chaplain to the final gathering of the survivors of the 200th Coast Artillery, one of the regiments that endured the Bataan Death March. As we gathered, I had the opportunity to speak to the veterans, a number of whom remembered Fr. Howden and offered personal reminiscences about him. It was a moving experience. We remember today this brave man of faith who was an inspiration to so many.


Frederick Bingham Howden, known to his family as Ted, was born January 27, 1902 in Cumberland, Maryland, one of seven children of the Rev. Frederick B. Howden, Sr. and Angelica Constance Faber Howden. He was twelve years old when his father was consecrated Bishop of the Missionary District of New Mexico and Southwest Texas, and the family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attended preparatory school at the Kent School in Kent, Connecticut, graduated in 1925 from Yale University, and then completed three years of seminary training at General Theological Seminary in New York City. His father ordained him Deacon at St. Clement’s Church in El Paso, Texas on June 10, 1928 and Priest, also at St. Clement’s, on January 13, 1929.


Immediately thereafter, Fr. Howden was called to serve as the Rector of St. Andrew’s Church in Roswell, New Mexico. During his tenure at St. Andrew’s he served as Vicar to Lincoln County Episcopalians from 1929 through 1941, and as a supply priest to St. Paul’s Church in Artesia, New Mexico. He also held occasional services in the developing towns of Hobbs and Lovington, and served as the Chaplain at the New Mexico Military Institute. On April 21, 1932 he married Elizabeth Fegan in St. Mark’s Church in San Antonio, Texas.


Beginning in 1929 Fr. Howden led services of Evening Prayer in the schoolhouse in Glencoe and frequently celebrated Holy Communion at the Church of the Transfiguration which met in the Navajo Lodge in Ruidoso, New Mexico. He began a fund-raising drive to build an Episcopal chapel in Lincoln County, the result of which was St. Anne’s Chapel in Glencoe. It is now the oldest Episcopal Church in Lincoln County, and at the time of its consecration on June 3, 1934 was the only protestant church of any denomination within the 150 miles between Roswell and Alamogordo.


When World War II broke out Fr. Howden held the rank of Captain in the New Mexico State Guard, and was the Chaplain to the 200th Coast Artillery when it was federalized and sent to the Philippine Islands early in 1942. A friend who was with him daily said he was always walking over the hills of Bataan holding open air services here and there and doing everything possible to help the men who affectionately called him “Chappy”. He was, however, a real soldier as well as a chaplain which all the more gained him admiration and respect as he moved from battery to battery, holding services and distributing candy, soap, and cigarettes he had foraged for the troops. He was a spiritual presence to his men, and in him they saw demonstrated love, goodness of life, and joy in serving others in the Lord’s name and for His sake.


At the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor to Japanese forces in April 1942, Fr. Howden and his fellow soldiers were made prisoners of war and were forced to endure the Bataan Death March during which some 18,000 died. During imprisonment in several prison camps including Camp O’Donnell and Cabanatuan and finally at Davao Prison Colony on Mindanao, his heroism and faith were always apparent through the humanitarian care he gave to those he served. At great cost to himself he often gave his own portion of food to others whom he insisted needed it more than he.


Fr. Howden died of dysentery and starvation-induced pellagra on December 11, 1942, but his family were not notified until June 1943. He was buried by his men in a small cemetery in the shadow of the Mindanao jungle a mile or so from the camp at Davao. After the war, in 1948, his remains were reinterred in an Albuquerque, New Mexico cemetery.


The prayer that Fr. Howden wrote for the cadets at New Mexico Military Institute was printed for many years in the cadet handbook.


Our Father in heaven, inspire, we beseech Thee, all members of this School with directness of purpose in the training of body, mind and spirit that we may better serve Thee, our country, and our fellowmen. Give us the vision to know the right, and the courage to follow after it. Strengthen us with might by Thy Spirit for the duties of life before us. And grant that we may so lay to heart the lessons of training and discipline here that we may always continue Thy faithful soldiers and servants unto life’s end. Amen.


The Cathedral Church of St. John | 318 Silver Avenue SW | Albuquerque, NM 87103 | 505.247.1581