Murdered Priest Honored in Crime Victims Ceremony
Morris County Prosecutor's Office holds ceremony to remember Chatham's 'Father Ed.'
Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said each year the Prosecutor's Office chooses one victim, usually a homocide victim from a prominent trial case the year before, to honor in their Recognition and Remembrance Ceremony held each April during Crime Victims' Rights Week.
This year, the Prosecutor's Office chose to honor the Rev. Edward Hinds, the former pastor of St. Patrick Church. Hinds, who was known to his congregation as "Father Ed," was stabbed 44 times by Jose Feliciano, the church custodian.
Bianchi spoke with candor and emotion about his experiences in the Catholic Church, and even of a calling he had to enter a seminary.
After consulting a Dominican recruiter, Bianchi decided to go to law school instead. He said, though, the priest told him he may one day be called upon to do a service for the Catholic Church.
"I hope I've fulfilled my obligation with this case," Bianchi said.
Friends and Family Remember "Father Ed"
Daniel Miller, Hinds' second cousin, and Judith Conk, a friend of Hinds for nearly 40 years, both gave remarks about their memories of Hinds and how they have coped with his tragic death.
For Conk, she said, she realized the tragedy was "laced" with memories of her friend. She took the impact statement she read to the judge at Feliciano's sentencing and took each of her questions of mourning—"Who will play Legos with my grandson Noah? Who will help my daughter look for a preschool for her children? Who will watch the sunsets on the porch with us? Who will baptize my grandchildren?"—and turned each instead into a story about Hinds that invariably brought a smile to her face.
Conk said after Hinds' death, someone recommended a book to her called "Turn My Mourning Into Dancing," written by Henri Nouwel. When she looked into the book, she realized Hinds had given her a copy months earlier.
"That's ... what Ed's calling me to do," she said. "It's now time for each of us to take up the torch of Ed's inner light. ... Please think about how you can turn your mourning into dancing."
Miller said to him, Hinds represented family. He shared memories of Hinds' parents, his aunt and uncle, and of seeing his cousin around town. He talked about pinched cheeks and family rituals, and of the last time he sat down with his cousin.
"To most people, it was 'Father Edward Hinds.' To me, it was Ed, it was Eddie," Miller said.
Employees of the county prosecutor's office lit candles in remembrance of victims who were damaged by crime and for those whose lives were taken by crime and could no longer speak for themselves.
Those present also observed a moment of silence, and the Rev. Robert Mitchell, the current pastor at St. Patrick Church, gave the closing benediction.