Brother John Raymond, CFA

Brother John Raymond Howard, CFA, age 92, of Milwaukee, passed into eternal life on May 27. He was born March 13, 1931, in Glendale, Calif., to the late Grace Margarete and Raymond Jacob Howard.

Brother John spent his childhood in Phoenix and his teenage years in San Diego and Chula Vista, Calif. He first identified his vocation while attending St. Augustine High School in San Diego. After graduating in 1949, he saw an Alexian Brothers advertisement in a national Catholic newspaper. “My interest was going into social work. I wanted to be of service to people,” he said.

He joined the Alexian Brothers as a postulant at their facility in Signal Mountain, Tenn., and in July 1951 began two years of novitiate training in Gresham, Wis., at age 20. After his novitiate training, he received his diploma in nursing from Alexian Brothers Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago in 1956 and became a registered nurse.

He served in various Alexian Brothers hospitals in a variety of capacities from bedside nurse to patient advocate. Early on, his natural gift of administration led to his appointment as assistant novice director at the novitiate in Gresham. He left that post in 1963 to become vocation director for the Immaculate Conception Province of the Congregation of Alexian Brothers.

Eventually, his love of nursing and adventure allowed him opportunities to do community-health nursing in rural South Carolina from 1971 to 1973. In 1973, he took a leave of absence to help care for his mother in San Diego after his father passed away. While there, he set up an office of social services for the Diocese of San Diego. The office provided food, clothing, and a variety of activities for migrant workers and other needy individuals living in the desert near Indio, Calif.

A year later, Brother John became the Alexian Brothers’ first patient representative, stationed at Alexian Brothers Hospital in San Jose, Calif. He held the position for more than four years, notifying and consoling families whose loved ones had died or had been injured, helping patients with billing questions, and generally troubleshooting on patients’ behalf.

In 1978, Brother John received permission from the Alexian Brothers to work at a clinic for the poor operated by the Franciscans in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. He worked there for six years, relishing the opportunity to use his nursing, people, and bilingual skills to help others. “We had the freedom to go to poor neighborhoods and care for somebody in the middle of the night, the freedom to start IVs by flashlight, the freedom to be the kind of Brother I envisioned our members were hundreds of years ago in Europe when they went where they were needed most,”” Brother John said.

Brother John served on the Provincial Council from 1986 to 1990 and was novice director for the Immaculate Conception Province from 1988 to 2005.

A natural leader, he usually was appointed director of any Alexian Brothers Community he resided in, including Elk Grove Village, Ill.; Signal Mountain, where he cared kindly and generously for elder Brothers; and Alexian Village of Milwaukee (now known as Ascension Living Alexian Village), twice. He remained a dedicated leader up until age 91. Those he was chosen to lead often would say that his pleasant and gentle disposition consistently inspired hope in them.

Other gifts Brother John generously shared were his unique sense of organization and “fix-it” skills that were beyond measure. Even while in hospice, he still was doing odd repair jobs for his fellow Alexian Brothers and projects for senior residents of Ascension Living Alexian Village.

He is predeceased by his older brother, Father Evan Howard, OFM. Survivors include his brother, Dennis Howard of San Diego; his nephew, Arthur (Emilia) Howard; his grand-niece, Sophia; and his beloved Alexian Brothers.

A funeral Mass for Brother John was celebrated on June 2 in Holy Spirit Chapel at Ascension Living Alexian Village in Milwaukee, with Father Joe Jagodensky, SDS, presiding. A memorial Mass was celebrated on June 9 in St. Augustine Chapel in Signal Mountain, with Father Albert Sescon presiding. Interment of cremains followed at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Chattanooga.

Any memorials can be made to Casa Franciscana Outreach.

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