Father William Evans, who served parishes in Western N.C., passes away
HIGHLANDS — Father William Morris Evans, passed away Aug. 20, 2012, at Highlands Cashiers Hospital in Highlands. He was 77.
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Aug. 30, 2012, at St. Jude Mission in Sapphire. Bishop Peter J. Jugis will be the main celebrant and Father James Cahill will be the homilist. Other priests of the Diocese of Charlotte are expected to attend.
Father Evans served at Catholic churches in Statesville, Maggie Valley, Sylva and Highlands/Cashiers before retiring.
Father Evans came to his vocation in life by following the call of the Holy Spirit. He was raised a Baptist but converted to Catholicism at 18, prompting his grandmother to say he was "doomed to hell."
After four years as a U.S. Navy medical corpsman during the Korean War, he attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, earning a doctorate in French studies. He taught French language and literature at Appalachian State University until he was 40, when he felt the call to the priesthood.
"I thought God had lost His mind," Evans quipped in a 2011 interview with the Catholic News Herald, but nevertheless, he said, he joined the Dominican order and was ordained in 1981. The Dominicans put his teaching skills to use at universities in the Memphis, Tenn., area until 1986 when he decided to become a parish priest with the Diocese of Charlotte.
He subsequently served at Catholic parishes in Statesville, Maggie Valley, Sylva and finally Highlands/Cashiers, where he retired several years ago.
In 1988 Father Evans started teaching French classes at Western Carolina University, which he continued to do until his retirement. Then Charlotte Bishop John F. Donoghue allowed Father Evans to teach in addition to being a priest because he said he liked having a Catholic presence on a state university campus.
"Teaching and being a priest are two jobs I love dearly," Father Evans said in the 2011 interview. "Even as a priest, I was a teacher trying to explain what the Scriptures say to us today."
Even in retirement, he taught a Bible study class at St. Jude Mission in Cashiers and occasionally celebrated Mass when needed.
A lifelong teacher, Father Evans had a keen mind and enjoyed learning as well as teaching. He took flute lessons with Rita Hayes, a member of the Asheville Symphony.
Tina Cone was one of the parishioners who often helped Father Evans when needed. She said parishioners were glad to give back to the man who had brought so much to their lives.
"Father Evans is a very good speaker and an inspiration to be around," Cone said in 2011. "He puts you at ease. You can talk to him about anything.
Melton Funeral Home and Cremation Service Inc. of Sylva was in charge of the arrangements.
Read more about Father Evans in a 2011 Catholic News Herald feature.
— Catholic News Herald. Tim Reid, correspondent, contributed.
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy