Gulfport woman honoring memory of slain priest

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport woman is hoping to organize a vigil to honor the memory of slain priest Father Edward Everitt. Karen Futch and her family lived in Memphis from 1997 to 2006. They were members of St. Peter Catholic Church in downtown Memphis and Father Ed was their pastor.

"He comforted everyone, just a compassionate, kind man to everyone he met," said Futch.

Futch described Father Ed as a big man with a gentle voice. He was a man of love and faith.

"I remember one Christmas Eve in Memphis, we had an ice storm, about six inches of ice," said Futch. "Every church was closed, and Father Ed said mass that night to six people."

Father Ed will always be a part of her family's history. When she and her husband Steven had their first child, Father Ed baptized their baby boy, Jacob.

"And I can remember him putting his hands on him and my husband and myself. He always had time for everyone. He had time for strangers. He would come back after mass and talk to everyone," said Futch.

Futch couldn't believe it when she heard about a murder in Waveland Monday and the victim turned out to be her former pastor.

"It was shocking," said Futch. "You don't expect that for anyone, but especially a priest and someone who we knew and were somewhat close with."

Futch doesn't want to talk about the man accused of killing Father Ed. Instead, she wants to honor the memory of a priest who gave inspiring sermons, who comforted others with his calm voice, a man who will be missed by many.

"I think it's important for people here to know the man behind the face that they see in the paper. He was a great man and continues, I think, to inspire people and bring out their faith," said Futch.

Father Ed also served as pastor of two churches in Louisiana. Funeral plans are complete. The visitation is Friday, July 15, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  The funeral mass is Saturday, July 16, at 1:30 p.m. at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond, LA.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.