Priest beaten, robbed in South Side rectory

December 6, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Father Daniel Mallette was beaten and robbed by the suspects. He suffered several broken ribs and cuts on his face in the attack.

Police are still searching for the men who broke into St. Margaret of Scotland Church early Tuesday morning on Chicago's South Side.

One church member and close friend of Father Mallette is Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who said, when his phone rang early Tuesday morning, he knew it was going to be bad news. Dart said the attack left Mallette badly bruised, but it didn't damage his spirit.

The headstrong priest insisted on saying mass to a small gathering of church members Tuesday afternoon, despite his injuries

Throughout the day Tuesday, deeply concerned parishioners of St. Margaret of Scotland Church dropped in to check on their spiritual leader.

"A friend of mine who comes to church here, she called me this morning and told me that father had been robbed and been beaten and several ribs broken, and I actually just cried on the phone," said parishioner Patricia Hardmon.

The 80-year-old pastor emeritus was beaten and robbed in the rectory overnight. He suffered some broken ribs and cuts and bruises to his face.

Visits from friends started as soon as Mallette returned from the hospital.

"I wanted him to know he's not alone in this, and I want whoever did it to understand that when you take him on, you take me and everybody else on," said Father Michael Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina Catholic Church.

It was 12:30 a.m. early Tuesday morning when two men broke into the rectory. Mallette apparently woke up to find them standing over his bed demanding money.

Investigators say, as they beat the elderly priest with his own cane, he prayed.

Eventually, the men got away with several hundred dollars.

The attack left church members speculating who would do such a thing. They say Mallette counsels those who are known to be dangerous.

"There are some unsavory characters sometimes, but he lives by the Bible and says that could possibly be Jesus, and he lends a helping hand and sometimes the results are what we have today," said Earl McKay, St. Margaret of Scotland Church.

"There's people that he comes in contact with…that I just shake my head and say, 'Father, you know, this person is too far gone and lost, let that person go,' " said Sheriff Dart.

Dart says Malette is a close friend to his family and a tireless servant of the community, devoting his life to fighting violence and racial injustice.

Now other church members say all they can do is pray for whoever committed the crime.

"I pray for them because I know that they need help," said parishioner Cheretha Gaston.

The church has already taken measures to step up security in the rectory.

No arrests have been made.

St. Sabina Catholic Church is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who gives information leading to the arrest of the persons who beat and robbed Fr. Mallette. If you have information, call the police or St. Sabina at 773-483-4300.

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