Supporters come to St. Margaret of Scotland to show love for beaten priest

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People gather at St. Margaret of Scotland Church at 9849 S. Throop Thursday December 8, 2011 for a scheduled evening Mass and support for Reverend Daniel Mallette who was injured in a robbery at the church’s rectory earlier this week. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Rick Voris lives in Crestwood now, but he still comes regularly to St. Margaret of Scotland Church, his childhood parish, to listen to the man who baptized one of his daughters and buried both his parents.

Voris, 59, was inside the South Side church again Thursday evening – along with about 300 other people – to show his enduring love for Rev. Dan Mallette, 80, who was brutally beaten Tuesday morning on church property.

“He’s here,” Voris said of Mallette. “He’s not gone anywhere. We feel him here, even though he’s not physically in the church. Spiritually, he’s here.”

In fact, Mallette was recovering at little distance away – in the rectory Thursday – while another priest led the mass in his honor.

The Rev. William Kenneally told the congregation that Mallette is in pain, but “he’s full of vinegar and vigor.”

“He was in pain, but he was very anxious about here and what was going to happen here,” Kenneally said.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who was married by Mallette, was also at the church Thursday, keeping an eye on his friend.

Meanwhile, a neighboring church is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the two robbers who beat the priest.

St. Sabina Church is putting up the cash in the hope it will convince someone to identify those responsible for the shocking attack.

Mallette suffered two broken ribs, black eyes and severe bruising when he was assaulted during the late-night break-in at the church’s rectory in the 9800 block of South Throop.

“The tragedy is that we’re living in a time when nobody is respected, not even an elder priest who has devoted his life to the community,” said St. Sabina pastor, the Rev. Michael Pfleger. “There used to be some kind of off-limits for elders and women and children.”

More than $500 intended for distribution to the poor was stolen in the break-in, and one of the robbers even asked Mallette to pray for him after the attack, parishioners say.

Mallette released a printed statement Wednesday thanking supporters for their “overwhelming and helpful” messages of love. He said he is “feeling better and stronger every day and I look forward to our community mass.”

Friends who have seen Mallette as he recovers at the rectory say he forgives those who attacked him, but add that he is in pain and the medication he is taking makes it hard for him to keep his head clear.

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