Reverend Trent Lawson Watts

August 20, 1953January 17, 2021

Reverend Trent Lawson Watts, 67 years old, died on Sunday, January 17, 2021 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was born in Roswell, New Mexico on August 20, 1953 to the late Elsie (Edge) Watts and the late Mack Guilford Watts. He is survived by his sister, Celeste (Watts) Byrd, his niece, JoBeth Byrd Riker (Justin) a nephew, Alexander Byrd (Hannah), extended family members, and special friends Pat Ciemnicki and Joe Baiunco.

Father Watts graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science. After discerning a vocation to the priesthood, Father Watts entered formation and studies for the Priesthood for the Diocese of Raleigh in 1988, completing his M.Div. degree at Saint Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, MD in 1992. Father Watts was ordained to the Priesthood on January 30, 1993 at the Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary in Wilmington, North Carolina by the Most Reverend F. Joseph Gossman, Bishop of Raleigh.

In the Diocese of Raleigh, Father Watts served as Parochial Vicar of Good Shepherd Parish in Hope Mills; as Parochial Vicar of Saint Thomas More Parish in Chapel Hill; as Parochial Vicar of Saint Patrick Parish in Fayetteville; as Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Dunn; as Pastor of the Saint Therese of Lisieux Parish in Wilson; as Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Southport and as Pastor of Saint Therese, the Little Flower Parish in Wrightsville Beach, where he was currently serving at the time of his death.

The funeral arrangements for Father Watts are as follows: Reception of the Body and Vigil for the Deceased on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 4:00 pm at Saint Mark Catholic Church in Wilmington, Very Rev. John McGee, OSFS, V.F., Presiding. The visitation and private prayer will then follow until 7:00 pm. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 11:00 am at Saint Mark Catholic Church in Wilmington, with the Most Rev. Luis Rafael Zarama, Bishop of Raleigh, Principal Celebrant. Internment will take place at a later time and will be private to the family, as per the wishes of Father Watts.

In these days of precautions, seating for the Funeral Mass will be limited, but you may also pray the Mass via the live broadcast. Kindly see the parish website for information on seating and for the link to the live broadcast: If attending the Mass in person, kindly note and respectfully observe the described parish health safety protocols, also found on the parish website.

Memorial contributions in Father Trent's memory may be made to the charity of your choice. Cards may be sent to Saint Therese Catholic Church, 209 S. Lumina Ave., Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480.

Online condolences may be made at

Peacock - Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service, Southport, North Carolina.


  • Visitation and private prayer

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021

  • Funeral Mass

    Thursday, January 21, 2021


Reverend Trent Lawson Watts

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mary Snoddy Haynes

April 1, 2021

Lawson was my best friend. He was truly one of the best humans around. Many knew him professionally. I knew him personally. Love you my friend. You were the best❤️

tammy clardy

January 22, 2021

I will miss Trent and loved him very much. He was in my wedding and was the most confident, self sufficient person. Aunt Elsie and Celeste were so fortunate to have such a loving and caring son and brother. He will forever be in my heart. With love, Tammy Clardy.

Philomena Comes

January 22, 2021

Dearest Fr. Trent we will sadly miss you as the person who led us. Your pointed Homily each Sunday were so refreshing many of your parishioners will truly miss you. I pray we may find comfort in knowing your Mom is holding you and with the power of the Lord you may still guide us. To his family I wish you comfort and pray to help with heartfelt loss.

Monika Satterwhite

January 21, 2021

Fr Trent was our pastor for many years at Sacred Heart in Southport, we were sad to hear of his passing. He gave First Holy Communion to all three of my children and my husband converted to Catholicism under him. He gave wonderful homilies. I attended his funeral today and thought it was beautifully done. Prayers to the family.

Isabella Caugh

January 21, 2021

My husband Terry and I met Fr. Trent when we became parishioners at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Southport, NC. He was our pastor for approximately 6 years. We were very fond of Fr. Trent, in fact we became Eucharistic Ministers and Terry was an active 4th degree Knight of Columbus. We especially enjoyed all of Fr. Trent's sermons. They always struck us as relevant and seemed to fit a situation that we were facing, almost every time. I wish he had published them, he always kept a copy on yellow legal paper.
We often had lunch after the 11:00 Mass at his favorite restaurant, Locals. He had a great wit, very dry wit.
We also had another connection to Fr. Trent. The priest that gave him instruction in the Catholic Church and then brought him into the Church was Rev. Robert Shea. He had served at St. Mary's in Wilmington as pastor. We met Fr. Shea in Lenoir, NC at St. Francis Church. He baptized all 4 of our children, travelling to wherever we were living at the time. Fr. Shea was certainly a favorite of Fr. Trent.
We are greatly saddened at Fr. Trent's passing. He will be missed by many.

Lillian George

January 20, 2021

Joe and I met Father (Fr) Trent when he was a Seminarian serving at St. Therese in Wilson. We became friends at that time. When he came back to Wilson as our pastor, we started taking him out to eat and inviting him to our house for meals. After 11:00 am Mass, he’d come over for lunch. He’d be very tired. He’d sit in the recliner; we’d bring him cheese, olives and Lebanese bread and a Pepsi. He’d eat and fall asleep until lunch was ready. We always had ketchup on the table for him. He would add it to the kibbee and we’d get tickled. We loved Fr Trent and missed him after he left. We would see him at diocesan functions every once in awhile. We feel like he went straight to Heaven. Joe and Lillian George

Caroline O'Brien

January 20, 2021

Fr. Trent, we were blessed to have you as our Pastor at Sacred Heart in Southport. I still recall, and pass on to others, messages from your wonderful homilies. When prayer intentions were spoken at daily Mass, by me or others, several times you would stop the person after Mass to inquire and ask for a name so you could pray. Your devotion to Mary inspired us to have a deeper devotion. It was always uplifting to me when our paths would cross outside of church and you took time to chat. We are sad to lose you so soon. May you rest in peace.

Sue Mayne

January 20, 2021


I am envious of those that knew Trent longer than I did. He was not only my parish priest, but he was like a brother to me. We were foodie buddies and Ivy Cottage buddies. I even helped him buy a set of Haviland dishes that he loved that my friend was selling. When we were still having Mass, pre-Covid, we had brunch together almost every Sunday and had dinner after Saturday Mass when the choir sang on Saturdays. On Mondays, I would get calls to meet him at Ivy Cottage to offer an opinion on a piece of art he was going to buy. I'm going to miss his face and his calls.

Angela Clark Hutchings

January 20, 2021

I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your brother Trent. I remember my family visiting yours when we were children. Trent was always kind even though I was just a little kid and he was a teenager.

My thoughts and prayers will be with you.

Mary Warmkessel

January 20, 2021

I had the privilege of working with Father Trent as the Office Manager at St. Therese for two years. We were both new at St. Therese and I was new as someone working in a church office. He taught me so much and we continued our friendship after my time working at the church was over. The first time we spoke on the phone, I got a glimpse of who he was - funny, private, devoted to the Eucharist and to our Blessed Mother, devoted to his Mom and to his family. And could he deliver a homily! I am deeply saddened by this loss (as are all those he touched) but try to remember some of the things he would say at the end of a funeral: "This is what our faith is all about - this is not an ending for our loved one - this is a new beginning. We know that we will be together again... the love and the memories will never die." Thank you Father Trent, you were and are loved and we miss you down here. These words are not sufficient, but I offer my deepest condolences to his family and to all those who feel this loss.