The late Rev. Edward Hinds of Chatham, N.J., whose death has been ruled a homicide with parish janitor Jose Feliciano arrested and charged as a suspect, was ordained at Seton Hall in 1974.
Hinds’ body was discovered on the morning of Oct. 20 in the church rectory. The prosecutor’s office announced Tuesday that Feliciano was placed under custody based on suspicions that he may have murdered Hinds.
Msgr. Richard Liddy, the director of the Center for Catholic Studies and a professor at Seton Hall, taught Hinds when he was in the seminary at Seton Hall, and remained a close friend of Hinds even in recent years.
“He was a good guy, a gentleman, and a good priest,” Liddy said. “People constantly said that he was a good priest and I was happy to see that.”
Hinds was sent to Rome because he was, as Msgr. Liddy described, “bright.” Liddy said that Fr. Hinds held a job as the secretary to the bishop for a while, but he always wanted to be a pastor, or a parish priest.
“He was very good at that, he had a big school with 500 kids,” Liddy said. “Being a pastor of a big parish isn’t easy, lots of responsibilities, and he felt the weight of it. But he was really a hard worker, he didn’t take much time off, and he was always on time.”
Liddy also said they continually met each month for many years as part of a support group of priests, and even played golf together.
“It’s just a tragedy, a real tragedy. I was really shocked,” Liddy said. “I thought maybe he had a heart attack or something and then I heard and I thought ‘oh gosh.’ I think he died with his boots on, meaning he died in service to the church. Even though it sounds like it was a tragic misunderstanding in tragic circumstances, he was there in the middle of his ministry, serving.”
Hinds’ laughter is one of the fondest memories that Liddy said he holds.
“He’s a very serious guy, but when he laughed, he laughed,” Liddy said. “It would be very real. That’s the biggest memory I have of him.”
Hinds was also no stranger to the community as Liddy said that parishioners talk fondly of how Hinds would visit them outside the church.
“Everybody in Chatham knew him,” Liddy said. “They have very positive memories of him. If there was something going on in town he would go.”
Liddy said that he heard a parishioner on TV said that Hinds was a good priest, and that meant a lot for him to hear.
“His memory hopefully will make people pray for priests, as it’s the Year of the Priest” Liddy said. “I think that ‘service’ is what he would want to be remembered for, and that’s what I remember him for, that’s the way he was.”
Stephanie Bower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.