A true classic study in honesty, humility, and humor” might aptly describe Harry R. Houle of Phoenix who passed away last summer at the age of 71. But even that description might be found wanting because Harry was also a bit of a visionary working toward improving life in the Third World and expanding the vocation of priesthood to include family responsibilities which his life demonstrated so well.
Ordained as a member of the Carmelite Order in 1955, Harry served over ten years in various capacities and missions around the world. Among his assignments was service in Sicuani, Peru, where he met Emma Lu Donaven, a Papal Volunteer in that country.
hey married in 1966 and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, because Harry “hated the cold” that was associated with Chicago, his birthplace. Harry worked for 24 years as the librarian at Phoenix Country Day School where he also taught classes in Latin until his retirement. Harry was the proud father of two sons named for the apostles, Matthew and Andrew which confirmed Harry’s role as a real “family man.”
After Harry’s transition to life as a married priest in the mid-60s, he took an active role in the early days of the movement for a married priesthood. In September, 1965, during a St. Louis meeting of the National Association for Pastoral Renewal, a nine member steering committee including Harry formed the Society of Priests for a Free Ministry (currently the Federation of Christian Ministries). Harry was the author of the first position paper presenting for discussion the directions and goals of SPFM and the married priest movement. Harry’s role in the quest for a married priesthood is described by William Powers in his account, Free Priests.