By Catholic News Service • Posted August 21, 2018

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (CNS) — A Byzantine Catholic priest was attacked Aug. 20 in the altar servers’ sacristy of his church in Merrillville, near Gary in the northwestern part of the state.

The priest, Father Basil Hutsko, suffered a concussion in the attack at St. Michael Church, and was scheduled to undergo further tests to determine the extent of his injuries.

The attacker, who was still at large, jumped Father Hutsko from behind, according to Father Thomas Loya, director of the Respect Life Office for the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Ohio, and a member of the eparchy’s presbyteral council.

In a Facebook posting after the attack, Father Loya said, “The attacker choked him and slammed his head to the ground. Father Basil lost consciousness. Before going unconscious, Father Basil heard the attacker say, ‘This is for all the kids!'” — a reference to clergy sex abuse scandals that have resurfaced in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Father Hutsko, who is in his 60s, is not suspected of any abuse, Father Loya told Catholic News Service in an Aug. 21 telephone interview.

 

Father Loya said Father Hutsko was alone in the church after having finished the morning liturgy at the time of the attack. The assailant “must have been pretty strong, because Father Hutsko is a pretty healthy, strong guy,” he added. The attacker wore gloves, Father Loya noted. “He was smart enough to not leave any fingerprints.”

“I think some parishioners came by” and spotted the victim, said Father Loya, who also is pastor of Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Parish in Homer Glen, Illinois. The church was unlocked at the time of the attack. “He woke up eventually. He was a little wobbly,” he said of Father Hutsko.

“The attacker got away. The police came, but they still don’t have anybody. Some people apparently later on said the only thing they noticed there was a car in the parking lot for a while and it disappeared,” Father Loya said.

“When I talked to him last night, he was feeling discomfort in an area he wasn’t feeling prior,” he added. “He did spend the night elsewhere, for which I’m glad.”

Father Hutsko was “an innocent random victim — a random, innocent target,” Father Loya told CNS.

“All clergy now have to be vigilant. Not paranoid, but vigilant,” he added. “It’s time to witness.”

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Contributing to this story was Mark Pattison in Washington.


Teachings of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Do not seek the perfection of the law in human virtues, for it is not found perfect in them. Its perfection is hidden in the Cross of Christ.

St. Mark the Ascetic