January 3

Parishioners mourn death of slain Calif. priest

The man suspected of killing him exhibited erratic behavior and underwent a psychiatric evaluation before the slaying.

By Jeff Barnard And Tami Abdollah
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Karli Kauffman of Los Angeles contemplates the death of the Rev. Eric Freed on Thursday outside St. Bernard Catholic Church in Eureka, Calif, where Freed was found slain in the rectory on New Year’s Day.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

This May 2012 photo provided by Lynn Enemark shows the Rev. Eric Freed administering First Communion in St. Bernard Catholic Church in Eureka, Calif. Freed was found slain New Year’s Day in the rectory of the church. A suspect has been arrested who police say was in jail the day before behaving erratically but was released after being evaluated at a hospital.

The Associated Press

Karli Kauffman was one of his students. She drove from San Francisco to Eureka after learning about the killing and visited an impromptu shrine of flowers and candles outside the rectory. Her rosary was pressed to her lips.

“He was my mentor,” said Kauffman, who was inspired by Freed to switch majors to religious studies. “He taught me to have faith in humanity. To have someone kill a man who taught that and truly lived it every day makes me sick to my stomach.”

Still, she said Freed would want her to forgive his killer.

Yellow crime scene tape surrounded the rectory and church, with its Gothic windows and towering spire. Evergreen boughs from Christmas still graced the front doors.

Laurie Lynch grew up with Freed as her parish priest in Arcata. After he moved to Eureka, Lynch asked him to perform her marriage ceremony.

“It’s a horrible, horrible loss for everyone in our community,” she said. “He was a great man.”

Colleague William Herbrechtsmeier described his friend as a man of keen intellect who had a robust laugh and wide-ranging interests, including sports.

“It’s just horrid that someone of his quality would be snuffed out in this way,” he said.

Freed grew up in Southern California and graduated from Loyola Marymount University. He completed his graduate studies in linguistics while in Italy, where he also learned how to speak Italian.

Freed also worked on a book related to the bombing of Hiroshima, helping a survivor translate haikus about the experience and providing commentary. When the book was published a few years ago, Humboldt State held a conference on genocide and violence.

He often celebrated Mass in Japanese and other languages, parishioner Paul Shanahan said.

John Gierek said he was angry at the death of his pastor, but wanted to think about the life he led, rather than the circumstances of his death.

“I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that he brought the light of Christ to so many people,” he said. “The anger is just part of the grieving process.”

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