Father Everett, S.S.J.E. (1959)

bookscancenter_30LIMITATIONS of space prevent any substantial printing in COWLEY of the tributes to the life and work of the late Father Everett, S.SJ.E. His death December 16, 1958, came as a deep personal loss to all the faithful he had ministered to throughout a Priesthood of 53 years. Members of the Guild of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, of which he had been Warden, were immediately notified by Father Williams, Superior of the Society. Their letters in response to his message were a true measure of the influence Fr. Everett exercised in their spiritual lives.

Harassed by wretched health most of his life, Fr. Everett had enjoyed a respite of two years or more before his final illness. The end came peacefully after a week in the hospital. This was a great consolation to his close friends who had seen him so many times racked by pain and brought to the portal of death. His constitutional infirmities set in when he was a school boy and continued with little surcease until he died. The physical fortitude and moral courage with which he faced his sufferings were not the least among the qualities that endeared him to his friends.

Fr. Everett was a native of Nashua, New Hampshire, born there Dec. 5, 1879. He was the son of Edward Hurlburt Everett and Eva Janet Lyons Everett. The family had been illustrious in the annals of the country since Revolutionary times. He was educated in the public schools of Nashua, at Holderness School, and Hobart College.

Until his nineteenth year he had never known what it was to pray, much less what it was to share in any other aspect of Christian life. He was converted while at Holderness. The knowledge and love of God, he wrote later, burst miraculously upon him one day while walking through the woods. The intimate knowledge and true love, thus acquired, never failed him from that day until his death. Nor did the knowledge and love of God’s creation, exemplified by his contemplative walk through the woods, ever fail him either. He surprised and delighted visitors to the Monastery at Cambridge with his skill in identifying trees, birds, and flowers in the vicinity.

Coincident with his love of nature ran his love of music. From his early school days he had been an accomplished organist, playing professionally in several parish churches and colleges before his entry into the Priesthood. The night before he was suddenly stricken with his fatal illness he sat in the Common Room of the Guest House and listened with rapt enjoyment to a recording of his favorite classic, Beethoven’s Ninth.

Fr. Everett’s theological degree, S.T.B., was taken at Philadelphia Divinity School in 1905. He was a classmate of Dr. Royden Keith Yerkes, the celebrated theologian and scholar, now with the Bishop McLaren Center in the Diocese of Chicago. The two remained fast friends throughout their Ministries. One of the finest of all the tributes to Fr. Everett received at Cambridge came from Dr. Yerkes.

Early in the course of his theological studies Father Everett developed an interest in Thomas a Kempis. He made the famous “Imitation” the basis of his systematic devotions for the remainder of his life. He acquired a library of rare editions in many languages, including a volume in seven tongues in parallel columns about an inch wide.

Father Everett was ordained to the Diaconate June 11, 1905 in Holy Trinity Church, Philadelphia, and to the Priesthood at Concord, New Hampshire, December 21 of the same year. He sang a Mass in the Monastery Chapel, Cambridge, on the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood.

It was in June, 1908, that Father Everett first came to the Society of St. John the Evangelist. In December he sailed for England to serve his Novitiate at Cowley, Oxford. Poor health forced him to withdraw in February of the following year. Most of the time before his return in 1944 was spent as assistant to the late Father Frederic W. Fitts at St. John’s, Roxbury Crossing. His curacy of 33 years in that historic parish was highly acclaimed by clergy and laity alike throughout the Diocese.

On Christmas morning, 1943, Father Everett’s wife, Amelia May, died suddenly. Shortly thereafter he applied for readmission to the Society. His Postulancy began May 1, 1944. He became a Novice the following August and took his life vows September 14, 1946.

Dr. Yerkes pays this tribute to his classmate: “He opened my eyes to the very existence of meditation and literally started me in the practice of what, after fifty-five years, I appreciate as the most valuable practice of any individual who wants to know God and worship Him.”

The Journal of St. John’s, Roxbury Crossing, carried this comment: “Some may think of Father Everett as a man of deep and wide knowledge, an authority on Thomas a Kempis, a skilled musician. But foremost in the minds of those who knew Father Everett at St. John’s there will be the memory of his pastoral work as he ministered in times of loneliness and sorrow, as he shared their joys, gave wise counsel and direction and example in Christian living, and of his sacrificial love in the service of Christ.”

Mrs. W. E. Weber, Jr., of Kingsport, Tenn., testifies to the extraordinary hold he had on members of the Guild of the Holy Ghost the Comforter. In a letter to Fr. Williams she wrote: “I never saw him but by a thousand tokens I know him, as I have known few people. He has taught me by means of letters, brief notes, clippings, verse, hymns, words underlined—a wealth of wisdom and loving help, poured out over the years to one whom he had never seen.”

It was this gift of Father Everett that enabled him to touch and quicken the hearts and souls of people who turned to him for help.

Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.

Cowley, Vol. XXX, No. 2, 1959, pp. 45-47.

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