Retired priest won't leave rectory

Parish officials say he's been given housing options

October 2, 2012

A retired Chicago priest who served in his parish for 35 years doesn’t want to leave his rectory.

The 80-year-old Rev. Dan Mallette reportedly said he has nowhere to go once he leaves St. Margaret of Scotland church. 

While serving at his Southwest Side parish, Mallette built one of Chicago’s most diverse congregations. He continued to lead the church despite growing violence in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Archdiocese of Chicago said Mallette needs to leave so important repairs can made to the rectory, which they say is unsafe.

The archdiocese and a church leader have both said Mallette’s been given options, including space at a priest retirement home in the south suburbs or at a convent on the near North Side.

According to parish council Chairman Patrick Catania, the congregation has been supportive of Mallette, but parishioners are beginning to question why he’s fighting against leaving. Catania said they think the priest should obey the wishes of Cardinal Francis George.

“I think the people in the parish are now coming around to realize that Father Dan does have some alternatives, and it’s not this bleak picture that the sheriff’s going to evict him from the rectory at any moment,” Catania said.

Catania was disturbed by negative comments the priest has made about his successor, the Rev. William O’Donnell, and is worried Mallette has damaged his credibility with the congregation.

“This is not Father Mallette,” Catania said.

Last December, Mallette was the victim of a violent beating after burglars broke into the rectory. Catania said the priest hasn’t been the same since, and the job has become more than Mallette can handle.

“It’s worn on him. He has not cut back. He’s been trying to do everything he’s always done, but it’s clear that he can’t do that anymore,” Catania said.

St. Margaret’s has named the retiring priest pastor emeritus, while Rev. William O’Donnell has taken over duties as pastor.   

Mallette could not be reached for comment.