"Chicago Priest's Refusal to Leave Rectory Throws Catholic Church Into Chaos"

From ABC News: abcnews.go.com/US/chicago-priests-refusal-leave-rectory-throws-catholic-church/story?id=17386940#.UG2ETVEn5c5

An excerpt:

A Chicago parish is in turmoil because its beloved priest has balked at his impending removal from the Catholic Church rectory, while his incoming successor, who says he was attacked by a staff member, admits that he shares some of the blame for the disruption.

The Rev. Daniel Mallette, a civil rights and anti-poverty activist, has lived at St. Margaret of Scotland rectory since 1977, but the Chicago Archdiocese ordered him to move out earlier this year because it is in need of repair and is now considered unsafe for the frail but spry reverend. Mallette, 80, was brutally beaten on the church’s property by robbers late last year; he recovered from the incident and soon returned to St. Margaret’s.

It is part of established church governance in Chicago that a departing pastor lives off the premises for six months after the new pastor arrives, so he can get settled and establish his leadership. The deadline for Mallette to leave the church came and went Monday, and he has yet to vacate.

“I would love to stay where I’m at, and I thought when you became a pastor emeritus, this new pastor would come in and run the parish and I wouldn’t interfere with anything,” Mallette told ABC News affiliate WLS-TV.

Mallette said the cardinal previously told him that he would be able to reside at the rectory until he dies. But now, he says, the cardinal denies having told him that.
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“There was a time I thought that was what he said,” Mallette told ABC News today. "He’s a good man, and he’s suffering. He says he didn’t say it.

“I thought I heard him say that I could stay here. It could be that I didn’t hear it correctly.”

Colleen Dolan, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Archdiocese, told the Chicago Sun-Times that repairs on the rectory that were scheduled to begin Monday have now been delayed.

Dolan has not responded to a request for comment.

Mallette says the rectory is in fine condition.

“I don’t see any place that it needs repair,” he said.

The kerfuffle over Mallette’s departure comes as conflict grows between senior staff at the church’s school and the new parish priest, the Rev. William O’Donnell, who arrived at St. Margaret’s three months ago.

Rickey Harris, the principal of St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic School, sent a letter to church families Tuesday announcing his resignation. He mentioned his treatment by the Office of Catholic Schools and his “recent suspension by Fr. William O’Donnell.”

“The unfortunate events of these last few weeks have caused me to pause and reflect on who I am, my purpose, and whether or not I will allow myself to be disrespected, my integrity questioned and reputation that I have worked so hard to build to be stained with deception and untruths,” Harris wrote, adding that O’Donnell questioned his commitment to those he serves.

O’Donnell, however, told WLS Tuesday that it is he who has been subjected to intimidation since his arrival at St. Margaret’s, and that a now-suspended school staff member lunged at him twice.

“I was physically intimidated and, in fact, other teachers in the room stepped between us to stop it,” O’Donnell said.

Principal Harris told ABC News that he was not present at the time of the alleged altercation, but he was surprised when he heard about it. Although O’Donnell says he was almost attacked, he believes he must share some of the blame over how his arrival at the church has played out, he said.

I have to admit that I find this article confusing… It seems like there is more to the story than what is reported here. Does anyone have additional info on what is REALLY going on?

God bless,

The Chicago Sun-Times (one of the two major newspapers in Chicago) recently ran an editorial titled "Our kind of priest "

Mallette has always been our kind of priest.

He rode “freedom buses” in Mississippi in 1964 with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

He marched in Selma with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

He picketed for the right of an African-American student to swim in a segregated pool at Loyola University.

He was arrested at Buckingham Fountain, along with James Farmer and Dick Gregory, while protesting the segregation of Chicago’s public schools.

He annoyed an earlier boss, Cardinal John Cody, by driving a cab on weekends, saying he wanted to be more of a working man.

At St. Margaret’s, he built one of Chicago’s most racially diverse congregations, even as churches in other racially changed neighborhoods closed.


Fr. Malette has been at that same parish for 34 years. I think that is part of why he doesn’t want to leave, now that he is frail and elderly.

I understand why he doesn’t want to leave and why people are attached to him, but I’ve also seen in my parish how the presence of a former pastor divides loyalties and can make it incredibly difficult for a new pastor.

How would they let him stay 34 years. In my diocese, if a priest stays more than 10 years thats forever anymore. I always heard my diocese liked to move priests every 5 to 7 years so that people wouldn’t grow too attached.

There are some Churches here where they have pictures of Past Pastors on the wall and when they served the parish. Reminds me of the elderly Father in the Bing Crosby movie “Going my way”, I think in the past, it was common for Priests to stay at some parishes for a long time.

The Sun-times article here states Fr Mallette and his supporters say he’s being disrespectfully nudged towards a retirement home.

I am confused why an Archdiocese trying to aid a priest to settle in a retirement community is disrepectful?

Sounds like it’s possible that this aged priest may have a touch of Asperger’s, with change being highly disturbing. Even if no Asperger’s is present, living at the same place for decades is a big disruption to anyone, let alone an eighty-year-old. I hope this gets resolved with gracious patience.

This type of thing all got started by Father Flager when he refused to leave St Sabina’s church. So now this priest wants to stay where he is, so how can the Diocese force him away when they didn’t do the same to Father Flager? This is a problem of their own making and I for one don’t feel sorry for them one bit.

There are elderly Priests out there, one big church would have an elderly Priest often come in as a sort of standby to the weekday Masses and not exactly the Sunday Masses where perhaps more energy would be needed. The other day on Relevant Radio, they had an 85 year old active Priest. I would just be a bit hesitant about when a Cleric should be placed in a retirement community. I might understand an arrangement where he is not being the main Priest at a Rectory and moving out but am a bit hesitant about necessarily being put in a retirement community.

Very true. It’s like having two parents around going against each other (intentionally or unintentionally), with the kids getting very confused in the process.

Not unusual, the Pastor in my current Church has been here for almost 30 years.

Chicago clearly has a problem with some priests being in open disobedience to the Archbishops (and to the Church). Michael Pfleger is perhaps the most egregious example.
All the clergy need to be reminded that they have taken a vow of obedience to their bishop. When he says go, they GO.

Because it isn’t “aid” if the recipient doesn’t want it…

If you’re doing something “for” someone who doesn’t want it, then you’re doing it “to” them, not “for” them…

At times, people can become irrational and refuse help. Like when a child refuses help from a parent - the parent is responsible for the welfare of the child and should insist on helping.

I’ve seen this too. I recommend everyone involved grab a bucket of popcorn, a cold Coke and watch “Going My Way” with Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald on big screen TWICE.

It deals with this issue in a nice way … where no one is really “wrong” but the changing of the guard has come to a parish where the elderly pastor has been long ensconced. In “Going My Way” the two priests must even live in the same rectory … Crosby secretly has been assigned to take over the parish, but out of respect to the elderly pastor - pretends to be just an auxiliary priest.

Their styles clash (a sort of traditional reverence vs. youthful innovation) with the elderly priest shaking his head over the new priest’s ways.

If you haven’t ever seen it. It’s delightful. It’s sequel, “The Bells of St. Mary’s” similarly is a clash between two good people of the cloth who do things differently when faced with knotty problems like (can we socially promote a student with bad grades for a very good reason (divorce distracted her)? Or not)? With love prevailing in the end.

On the face of it … it looks like the elderly priest here has been a dynamic social crusader who is comfortable in his longtime home. He is under orders though and should move if asked to (or especially if ORDERED to). Freed of pastorly duties he might even crusade MORE - presuming such does not violate Church doctrines or cause scandal.

How did it work when HE was made Pastor? Did he have a pastor emeritus living with him as he took over?

He has BEEN a pastor … how did he deal with “refusals” to his orders?
It may not be the case, but to me, with just this info, Fr. Mallette looks like a rebel with a worldly streak. By being “demoted” to Emeritus and living off campus - does it mean his pet charities and social movements will not get priority use of the parish’s assets or something?

I fear the church may have been co-opted into an auxiliary of whatever crusading group
the ex-pastor favored. Go where you are sent Father Mallette, that’s why they call it “Holy Orders.”

Blessings on all involved including Fr. O’Donnell. And may peace attend the re-organization of the parish and the school.

I believe, not knowing the intricacies of the matter, that they should let the elderly priest remain in the Rectory- unless his is a danger to himself.

I have worked with the impaired elderly. Some can live independently- this priest may be such a person, and some can’t.

I’m sure the diocese is not so rich that they would be making renovations to the rectory if it wasn’t badly in need of them - nor so overstaffed with priests that they would be nudging anyone toward retirement who was still capable of being pastor of a parish. In my experience it has invariably been the opposite, both buildings and staff members are kept on past the time when they really should be repaired or retired.

Oh, I’m not saying the priest needs to necessarily be serving the parish but just that he could live there until it is unfeasible for him to do so.

Well it IS unfeasible NOW for him to do so - that’s why it is in need of fixing up and why they want him to move out in the first place :shrug:

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