Father Howard T. Clark dies at 83, led diocesan schools for 13 years


Dialog reporter


A funeral Mass will be celebrated Monday for former diocesan superintendent of schools, Father Howard T. Clark, who died Sept. 2. Father Clark, who returned to his hometown of Essington, Pa., after his retirement, was 83 and had been a priest for 57 years.

Father Clark is best remembered for his work in education in the Diocese of Wilmington. After his ordination in 1957, he was assigned associate pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Dover and served as the first principal of the new high school there. In 1962, at age 31, he became the superintendent of schools for the diocese, a post he held for 13 years.

During his tenure, he supervised the building and opening of St. Mark’s High School.

Fr. ClarkFr. ClarkIn addition, elementary schools reduced their class sizes, and teacher certification was introduced. He oversaw the development of programs for inner-city children with learning disabilities, as well as curriculum guides for reading, language arts, science, religion and mathematics.

Upon his retirement from the superintendent’s position, Dialog editor Kathleen M. Graham praised the priest for the reforms he instituted even as Catholic schools transitioned from a teaching corps of primarily religious women to mostly laity.

“Capable administration in some of the worst of times for Catholic education and building a framework and future direction into Catholic education for this diocese mark Father Howard T. Clark’s exit from the superintendent’s chair,” Graham wrote. “We are grateful.”

Father Clark worked successfully on a state constitutional amendment that provided bus transportation for students in nonpublic schools in Delaware.

In 1972, while still superintendent, he was appointed pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Easton, Md. He also was pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Chestertown, Md., and St. Peter the Apostle Parish in New Castle.

His last parish assignment was at St. Elizabeth in Wilmington. He was assigned there in 1997 and retired two years later.

Father Clark also served in the following organizations: the Delaware Constutition Revision Committee (1968-72), the Middle States Accreditation Commission (1966-75) and the Catholic Diocese Foundation board of directors (1966-87). He also served as chaplain to the “Catholic Forum of the Air” radio show and Chesapeake College.

Born in Essington, he attended St. Margaret Mary School in Essington, and St. James High School in Chester, Pa. He studied for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained in 1957 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington by Bishop Hubert J. Cartwright.

His funeral Mass will take place Sept. 8 at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church, 500 Wanamaker Ave., at the intersection with Governor Printz Boulevard. Burial will be at All Saints Cemetery, Wilmington.