Beloved priest at St. Therese Catholic Church dies after battle with COVID

Community mourns loss of beloved priest

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - The Catholic community is mourning the loss of one of their own.

Father Trent Watts, priest of St. Therese Catholic Church at Wrightsville Beach, died Sunday from COVID-19, according to the church’s website and a close friend.

Sister Rosemary McNamara knew Father Watts since the 1990′s and worked with him during his time at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. She spoke with him in mid-November just a few days before he went into the hospital with symptoms of COVID-19.

“He was symptomatic and he was having trouble breathing,” Sister Rosemary said in an interview Monday night. “It’s kind of the story we’ve heard over and over again. He put up a valiant fight at New Hanover. They tried getting him off the ventilator but he just couldn’t breathe on his own.”

Father Trent, 67, was a Wilmington native who attended New Hanover High School. He graduated from UNCW where he majored in Philosophy and Religion. Born and raised a Baptist, Sister Rosemary says Father Trent did not become a Catholic until 1980. He started his seminary studies after working at Dupont for nearly 12 years and became an ordained priest in 1993.

“As a priest, he served in the Diocese of Raleigh,” said Sister Rosemary. He was at Sacred Heart in Dunn, he was St. Therese in Wilson, he was at Sacred Heart in Southport and then his last assignment was here at Wrightsville Beach at St. Therese where he was pastor for the past four years.”

Sister Rosemary posted about Father Watts passing on Facebook shortly after learning he had passed.

Wilmington grieves the loss of a faithful Seahawk. Rev. Trent Watts died this morning from the effects of Covid-19....

Posted by Rosemary McNamara on Sunday, January 17, 2021

A visitation and vigil will be held Wednesday at St. Mark Catholic Church starting at 4 p.m. Funeral services will be held Thursday, Jan. 21 at 11 a.m. at St. Mark.

“We all have to pray for his sister and niece and nephew who live locally,” Sister Rosemary says. “He loved being a priest in the very best sense of it. He was faithful til the end and we’ll all miss him.”

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