The Holy Father was saddened to learn of the death of Bishop Emeritus William R. Houck and he offers heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and laity of the diocese.
In commending the late Bishop to the love and mercy of Christ the Good Shepherd, he joins in your prayer of thanksgiving for the many graces which accompanied his years of episcopal ministry to the Church in Jackson. To all who mourn Bishop Houck in the sure hope of the Resurrection, His Holiness cordially imparts the Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord.
With gratitude for your value assistance, I remain yours sincerely in Christ,
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Vatican Secretary of State
I’m going to miss Bishop Houck a great deal, he was one of the most unselfish and warm and loving bishops that I have ever met. From the first time that I ever became a bishop in 1999 all the way to the last meeting I had with him in January at our bishops’ retreat, he constantly reached out to others, praised the good in others, and really was the figure of Christ.
I am very grateful for the chance to honor him. After completing his work as the bishop of Jackson I know he served in a beautiful way as president of Catholic Church Extension Society and really served the wider church in that capacity. I’m very proud to have known him.
Archbishop joseph E. Kurtz,
President, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky
With the death of Bishop William R. Houck, Catholic Extension mourns the loss of a true servant leader who dedicated much of his life and ministry to helping build the Catholic faith in America’s under-resourced dioceses.
Through his lifelong ministry as a priest and bishop in mission dioceses of the deep South, Bishop Houck knew firsthand the many joys and challenges Catholics experience in America’s missions.
Serving as a longtime board member, as president from 2001 until 2007, and since then as president emeritus of Catholic Extension, he made many lasting contributions to our mission and work.
Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, especially his sister, Millie Houck Reilly; and to the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, which he loved and served as its good shepherd.
We will greatly miss his joyful spirit, his guidance and wisdom and his dedication to spreading the Good News. May he rest in God’s peace.
Archbishop Blase Cupich
Chancellor of Catholic Extension
I was saddened by the news of the death of Bishop Houck. The Catholics of the Diocese of Jackson and all the people of Mississippi have suffered a great loss. A native of Mobile, he remained grateful for and connected to his Alabama roots even as he proudly and lovingly served the people of the Magnolia State.
He was a man of deep faith and his love of God showed powerfully in his genuine love of neighbor. He was committed to serving those in need and fostering understanding and respect among all.
He was tireless in his dedication to ministry even into his “retirement” years. I am personally grateful for the kindness and support he extended to me when I was appointed Bishop of Biloxi and he served as Bishop of Jackson.
His advice and encouragement meant a great deal to me. His kindness to me was typical of the way he treated everyone. May this good man rest in peace.
Archbishop Thomas Rodi
Archbishop of Mobile
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit with Bishop Houck during the annual Catholic Day at the Capitol and, as always, he was very gracious and, seemingly, in great spirits. So, I was shocked and saddened to learn of his passing. Bishop Houck was a good, faithful shepherd to the people of the Diocese of Jackson and a trusted friend to the Diocese of Biloxi.
He was a very kind and compassionate man, who showed genuine care and concern for our brothers and sisters, particularly those in the greatest of need. Bishop Houck was very knowledgeable about the needs of our mission dioceses in the United States, especially here in the Deep South, which is why Pope John Paul II appointed him as president of Catholic Extension, a role in which he continued to serve after his retirement as bishop of Jackson.
As president of Catholic Extension, Bishop Houck was a constant presence on the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, offering tremendous comfort and support. With gratitude for the life and ministry of Bishop Houck, I pray that he may rest in peace.
Bishop Roger Morin
Bishop of Biloxi
I first met Bishop Houck when he was pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Birmingham, Alabama. He was ordained an auxiliary bishop by St. John Paul II in May of 1979 in Rome and that’s when I really got the chance to know him.
He was named bishop of Jackson after Bishop Joseph Brunini retired. He certainly took care of Bishop Brunini in the greatest fashion. He was a great friend to Bishop Brunini. We worked together for a long time and he was a very kind and considerate bishop.
He was an outstanding bishop. We’ve constantly kept in touch since he retired. Just recently, I got a letter from him. I wrote a thank you letter for a Christmas gift he sent me – a box of popcorn – and he wrote me back. I was sad to hear that he had died. I was shocked.
I celebrated Mass in my private chapel for the repose of his soul as soon as I heard the news and I will continue to do so. He was an outstanding priest and an outstanding bishop.
Bishop Joseph L. Howze
Retired Bishop of Biloxi