|Remembering Father Edward Houghton|
Our Lady of Grace's Parish Priest Fr Anthony Dwyer pays tribute to his former assistant
Fr Tony writes, "Like all of you, last weekend was a time in my life which I shall never forget. One moment all is well, enjoying a very happy and restful holiday, and then everything is transformed by a phone call - a phone call which brought tragic and painful news. Fr Edward's family and all of us are still struggling to come to terms with our great loss, the loss of a brother, a friend and a good priest.
I have known Fr Edward for the past seven years when he began his formation for Ordination and I tool up my role as Vice Rector in the seminary and I believe it;s true to say that this past year was a particularly happy time for him. A very happy time for him as he realised his dream of being a priest, and realised too how much he had to give and what contentment and happiness Priesthood brings. He also said, on a number of occasions, how happy he was here in Chiswick and I like to think that he was aware of how much he was valued, appreciated and loved.
Fr Edward had only been here for just under a year but he had clearly made a great impression on many of us . Over the past few days many people have already spoken of how much they appreciated his thought provoking sermons, others have commented on his spirituality. he had a gift for making relationships - relationships with all sorts of people; he go on so well with the young people his presence at St Mary's School will be sorely missed where he was so very popular with both the pupils and staff; he also particularly enjoyed working with teenagers in the Confirmation Programme and here his own appreciation of debate and argument came into play as he successfully encourage our young people to think and argue for themselves.
Although Fr Edward might have had a somewhat serious exterior, underneath there was a warm heart, there was very much the heart of a shepherd; that was so apparent as he greeted people with his transforming smile after Masses on Sundays and that warm heart was even more apparent as he noticed and made time for those who were sometimes forgotten, or who might not have been the easiest company or who lived their lives a little closer to the edge. Fr Edward had many friends, friends who he was very good at keeping in contact with, and that is not surprising given his warmth and sense of humour. He was great company, he certainly enjoyed life, he liked to socialise and for some light relief he had an interest in horse racing; the closeness of the presbytery to Betfred wa a convenience he much appreciated!
As we ponder the sudden and untimely death of Fr Edward we will all have many questions - there is the inevitable question 'why' 'why'? It's a question we can keep asking but I'm not sure that we'll find an answer, at least not an answer that will adequately satisfy us. Even in death we can learn from Fr Edward - we can learn from the example of his faith which was so real, so obvious and so strong. We can learn not to question but to trust - to trust. To trust God and to know that as Fr Edward strived to be a faithful servant and priest so God will be faithful to him, and will reward him for his labours and will grant him a place of rest and peace.
May he rest in peace.
August 30, 2009