By LAURA DEAVERS, CNS | Published July 21, 2011
A former pastor of Holy Cross Church, Atlanta, Dominican Father Edward Everitt is being remembered as a spiritual pastor who “fostered community” by friends in Atlanta.
The Louisiana pastor was found shot to death July 11 at his order’s Mississippi retreat house. He was staying at the weekend retreat house owned by the Dominican friars in Waveland, Miss. He was 71.
Father Everitt was pastor of the Louisiana parishes of Holy Ghost Church in Hammond and Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Tickfaw in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.
“It is tragic, but he preached hope for other people and we are going to continue that legacy,” said Father Dave Caron, vicar provincial for the Dominican Province of St. Martin de Porres. He said Father Everitt often spent his days off at the house in Waveland.
On July 12, police arrested Jeremy Wayne Manieri, 31, of Waveland for Father Everitt’s murder. He was apprehended in Polk County, Fla., southwest of Orlando, and had his first court appearance July 13.
At a news conference the day of the arrest, Waveland Police Chief Jimmy Varnell said the shooting appeared to be robbery related, pointing out that the priest’s wallet was missing. Manieri’s extradition to Mississippi was in process on July 19.
Manieri also was wanted on a warrant from Escambia County, Fla., for grand larceny, police reported. In 2006, he was convicted of a sex offense and is listed on the State of Mississippi’s Sex Offender website.
Manieri worked as a maintenance man at the house where Father Everitt’s body was found. The priest suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
Authorities say Manieri was driving Father Everitt’s SUV, which was equipped with the auto tracking system OnStar. They used the GPS feature on the device to locate the vehicle at a motel.
Kathy Scott, secretary at St. Clare Church in Waveland, found Father Everitt’s body. Holy Ghost parishioners contacted St. Clare Church after they had been unable to reach the priest on his cellphone. Scott went to the house to check on the priest and found him about 4:30 p.m.
Bishop Robert W. Muench of Baton Rouge said Father Everitt’s slaying was tragic.
“I express my utter shock and profound mourning over the news of the murder of Father Edward Everitt. This tragic loss of Father Ed’s life leaves a deeply felt void in all our lives,” the bishop said in a statement.
“Together we pray to the author of all life to provide Father Ed with the peace of eternal life. May our grief be seen in that perspective as we thank God for his valued life and priestly ministry,” the bishop said.
Father Everitt wanted to be a priest for as long as he could remember, according to the Dominican order’s vocations website, which described the late priest as having a passion for preaching.
The website said that in his downtime, Father Everitt enjoyed spending time with family and friends in Waveland.
A native of Houston, Father Everitt was ordained in 1968, in Dubuque, Iowa, and celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Rosary Church in Houston.
He attended the University of Houston; Loras College of Dubuque, Iowa; Aquinas Institute of Theology in Dubuque; and East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas.
Father Everitt was pastor of Holy Cross Church in Atlanta from September 1989 to June 1995. The Dominican order staffed the parish from 1976 to 1995. He represented religious order priests on the Atlanta Council of Priests and celebrated his silver jubilee as a Dominican priest at Holy Cross in May 1993. He was the last Dominican pastor of Holy Cross before the parish was returned to care of the archdiocese at the request of Archbishop John F. Donoghue.
According to a story in The Georgia Bulletin in 1989, his background included many years of teaching and college campus ministries in Texas, Louisiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. Before becoming pastor of Holy Cross Church, he was director of the Office of Clergy Development of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas, where he previously was director of campus ministries.
Deacon Frank F. Coughlin, now retired, served as business manager of Holy Cross for Father Everitt after retiring from Proctor and Gamble. A resident of Tucker, Deacon Coughlin remembers the priest as a close friend, a spiritual person, “the best liturgist” he’d ever met. He said that Father Everitt was “clearly the best preacher on a consistent basis” he knew.
“As a leader, he enabled people. Truly he was a post-Vatican II priest,” said Deacon Coughlin. “He embraced Vatican II with his whole heart and soul.”
He said that the priest’s model for community was that people are the church.
“In the middle is Jesus, and around him are people who are equals,” he said.
Deacon Coughlin said that Father Everitt enabled the parishioners to do what they were “called to do.”
Father Everitt served as chaplain and instructor at Edgewood High School in Madison, Wis., chaplain at the University of Wisconsin and Blessed Sacrament Parish in Madison, Wis., and Thomas More College in Covington, Ky., before being assigned to St. Albert the Great Chapel and Student Center at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. He was named pastor of Holy Ghost and Our Lady of Pompeii in 2006.
Parishioners of the two parishes gathered for a memorial Mass July 12 and funeral services were celebrated at Holy Ghost Church on July 16. He is survived by three sisters and two brothers.
“He will be greatly missed by the two parishes he served and by the Dominicans,” Father Caron said.
Parishioners at Holy Cross Church in Atlanta were to gather for a memorial Mass July 20.