HAMMOND — The Rev. David Caron told about 1,500 grieving members of the Holy Ghost and Our Lady of Pompeii Roman Catholic parishes Tuesday night that the late Rev. Edward “Ed” Everitt was a “great pastor, a devoted Dominican, a faithful priest and a beloved friend.”

Caron, assistant provincial of the Southern Province of the Dominican Order headquartered in New Orleans, was the lead celebrant at a Mass memorializing Everitt, who was shot to death in an apparent robbery attempt at a retreat house the Dominicans maintain in Waveland, Miss.

Congregants of the Holy Ghost Church in Hammond and  Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Tickfaw packed Holy Ghost Church to honor their pastor whose slaying was termed an “unspeakable tragedy” by Caron.

“I identify with your profound grief and experience with you the shock of losing your wonderful pastor whose life ended far too soon, long before his work on this Earth was completed,” Caron said.

Bishop Robert Muench of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, who concelebrated the memorial Mass with Caron, said of Everitt, “He lived his life to the fullest. He will be remembered for his love of the people and for his years of devoted service to his parishioners and to many others in the community.

“He will be sorely missed by all who knew and came to love him,” the bishop said.

Caron told those assembled for the Mass that in times of extreme grief, including the passing of a respected and treasured religious leader such as Everitt, that those grieving can “only turn to the Lord and thank God that we knew Father Ed, that we loved him, and that we can find consolation in the fact that he lived a life of giving and sharing that we can all imitate.”

Discussing the events surrounding Everitt’s death, Caron declared, “How tragic. How sad. And even as we wonder why such a thing had to happen, silence is really the only response to death. What can we really say when someone dies … and when death happens so tragically words simply fail us?

“God is calling on us to wait for answers to this awful time and those answers will come if we wait in silence.”

Caron told people crowding the church that there was power in their joining together to share in the grief over the loss of Everitt.

“In times of a tragedy such as this,” Caron said, “it is easy to ask, ‘Where is God?  Why did God let this happen to Father Ed …’ but I assure you that God is with us here tonight … and while God is not the cause of this tragedy, he is with us and he shares in our grief.

“Death does not win, life does; especially a life lived in God’s service such as the life Father Ed led.”

Caron closed his remarks by asserting, “The quality of our living is not measured by the circumstances of our dying, rather it is measured in how we lived our life and even though Father Ed’s life was cut short too soon, let us celebrate in remembering all that was good and noble about his life.”

Hammond Mayor Mayson Foster, a member of the Holy Ghost congregation, said of Everitt in an interview that he was moved by the message offered by Caron.

“He was a true leader, a friend to many and he was a visionary,” Foster said. “Many good things are happening at Holy Ghost, including major improvements to our elementary school and Father Ed started this.

“He will certainly be missed. He was a friend of many and many deeply and profoundly regret his untimely passing.”

City Attorney Andre Coudrain, who is a lay trustee and a member of the Holy Ghost Finance Committee, said he remembered Everitt from the time back in the 1970s when Everitt served as chaplain to the Catholic Student Center on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University.

“Father Ed was a role model for me when I was an undergraduate many years ago,” Coudrain said. “I learned from him as a young man and I was overjoyed to have him return several years ago as our pastor at Holy Ghost.

“We were blessed have him in our lives for the time that we did,” Coudrain said, “and he will be very sorely missed by many, many people.”