Slain priest was former Saint Francis High School chaplain

Saint Francis High School and its alumni are mourning the death of their former chaplain, Rev. Eric Freed, after his body was found on New Year's day in Eureka.

Freed, 56, was the popular pastor of St. Bernard's Parish in Eureka. He was found dead in the church rectory the morning of Jan. 1, apparently beaten to death. Police have arrested Eureka resident Gary Bullock on charges of murder. It was called "not a normal death investigation" by police.

In Mountain View, Freed served as St. Francis High School's Chaplain and religious studies teacher from 2002 to 2005. He returned each year to lead a retreat for the school's senior class, and sometimes served as a guest lecturer.

"This man was more than a priest, more than a representation of the Catholic church but rather a representation of the ability to find the best in the human race," wrote St. Francis graduate Justin Reginato in a Facebook post about Freed's death. "Sitting in class listening to his stories, talking to him afterwards about personal issues, picking his brain about his worldly travels, he was always there for me."

Freed would begin his religious studies classes by asking students to silently focus on their breath, banging on a metal bowl that would echo through the room. Freed was somehow able "to get a room of 16-year-olds to reflect inwardly on themselves," Reginato recalled, noting how easily Freed could do it.

Freed was also the chaplain for the school's football team, Reginato said.

Freed "stood on the sidelines of every game. I remember looking over at him, with a smile on his face, as he watched us win (he did love his football). He was an all-around wonderful human being who I will never forget."

Mountain View resident Chris Hildebrandt said in an email that Freed was the second former pastor of St. Francis to die this year. His predecessor, father Mark Catalana, died unexpectedly from a blood clot after surgery on a shattered hip from a bicycle accident.

"My children attended St Francis from 1995 to 2005, giving me the opportunity to meet both priests," Hildebrandt said. "Both were exceptional teachers, warm, caring, dedicated to their church and always finding the right words of encouragement for our children and their families."


Like this comment
Posted by Creepy?
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Sad news
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2014 at 3:55 pm

How this priest died is sad, indeed. He may have been a wonderful person, only God knows, and I am sure the police will handle the investigation well.

But I do have one concern about how he approached Religious Studies class. The article reports, "Freed would begin his religious studies classes by asking students to silently focus on their breath, banging on a metal bowl that would echo through the room."

And we Catholics wonder why we are so often asked if we are Christian? Perhaps now, ten years later, teachers at St. Francis will just teach the Gospel to their students. Parents pay top dollar, sending kids to school to learn about the Judeo-Christian Creator of the Universe, and that does not involve banging on metal bowls that reverberate.

To the PA Weekly staff:
There is nothing wrong with what I wrote, if you are itching to delete it. My children graduated from St. Francis eons ago, when Religion class meant learning about God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Due to their education and our parental influence, our children know they are Christian and each of them are productive and very involved members of society.

Like this comment
Posted by somewhat shocked by previous comment
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 7, 2014 at 6:10 pm

I'm sorry, but the previous comment by "Sad News" is objectionable, insensitive and in very bad taste, given that it has little to do with the barbarous death met by Freed. It is hard to see why asking a class to focus and reflect by breathing properly, prior to teaching them - and using the sound of a metal bowl to promote this - would in any way impair his ability to teach them Christian principles and educate them about the Gospel. "Sad News'" comment is ungenerous and un-Christian; perhaps a little more religious education, even at this stage of life, would be not a bad idea for the author to undertake?

Like this comment
Posted by Atheist
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 8, 2014 at 12:15 pm

[Post removed.]

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