Assistant Bishop Peter Howes (1968 – 1984)


Peter Howes was consecrated Assistant Bishop in St. Thomas’ Cathedral on the Feast of Transfiguration in 1976. He came to Sarawak in 1937, after his ordination in 1935 at Durham, in England. On arrival in Sarawak, was sent to Betong to assist Father Stonton at St. Augustine’s Church and School.

From there he was posted to Kuap, and given the task of taking charge of the whole Bidayuh area. He started translating the New Testament into Biatah, a Bidayuh dialect. In the latter part of 1930s, and before the start of the Second World War, Howes visited other churches and did ‘relief duty’ for priests who went on leave. That took him to Sandakan, Betong and other outstations.

When the war broke out, Howes was in Kuap, working hard in his garden to be self-supporting. Then in January 1942, he was arrested by the Japanese at Kuap and interned. While at the infamous Batu Lintang Prison Camp, he conducted eucharist services for the prisoners, together with Bishop Hollis and other missionaries.

The war ended in 1945, and the prisoners of war were immediately sent to Labuan. Howes soon returned to Sarawak to begin reconstruction of the Church. He visited Taee on 26 December 1945, and pleasantly discovered that the Church was active during the war under Oscar Sindon. At that service he was able to give communicants to 180 persons,  out of the 300 who attended.

The post- war period until early 1950s saw the Church progressing rapidly in the Bidayuh area under his leadership. Howes had to attend to several request from villagers who wanted to have schools or chapels established.

In 1952, Howes was appointed to start a theological school for the  training of local priests. Hence the establishment of the House of Epiphany in September, with Howes becoming the first Warden. During the Centenary Celebrations of the Diocese in 1955, six canonries were created, and Howes was one of them.

On return from his leave in 1956, Howes suggested that the Church should start a scheme to assist in the development of poor areas of Padawan.  The Colonial Government supported the idea for the Padawan Community Development Programme : with the Church providing the staff and the Government giving the funds. Howes headed a team of Development Officers from England in providing medical services and agricultural training. In 1960, the Government took over the Programme and Howes ended his appointment as Development Officer.

In the 1970s, he was appointed Archdeacon of Sarawak and Brunei, and later Archdeacon of Brunei and North Sarawak, where he visited and assisted the Churches in Brunei, Limabng,. Miri, and Bintulu.

Peter Howes retired in 1981. Since then he has visited Sarawak several times. In 1985, during the interregnum after the demise of Bishop Basil Temenggong, he was sent to Sarawak, as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commissary.

Recalling in his auto biography of his consecration as Assistant Bishop in 1976, he says: “So, after 40 years in the country, I found myself confirming the children and even grand children of those I had once taught. The lot, one felt, could hardly fall on any ground fairer than that… All told, before going on leave in April ’77, I had visited 24 centres, and had confirmed 1548 candidates.”