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.”

***

Contributing to this story was Mark Pattison in Washington.


Teachings of Christ

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV)

Resurrection

Christ is risen from the dead * trampling down Death by death, * and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (Troparion)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Although You descended into the tomb, O Immortal One, * You destroyed the power of Hades; * You arose as the victor, O Christ God, * proclaiming to the myrrh-bearing women: “Rejoice!” * And granting peace to Your Apostles, * O, You, Who gives resurrection to the fallen. (Kontakion)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not lose sight of these — keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul." (Proverbs 3:21,22a ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The soul has followed Moses and the cloud, both of these serving as guides for those who would advance in virtue; Moses here represents the commandments of the Law; and the cloud that leads the way, its spiritual meaning. The soul has been purified by crossing the Sea; it has removed from itself and destroyed the enemy army. It has tasted of the waters of Marah, that is, of life deprived of all sinful pleasure; and this at first had seemed bitter and unpleasant to the taste but offered a sensation of sweetness to those who accepted the wood. Next it enjoyed the beauty of the palm trees of the gospel and the springs; it filled itself with the living water, that is, the rock. It took within itself the bread of heaven. It overwhelmed the foreign host - a victory due to the extended arms of the Lawgiver, which thus foreshadowed the mystery of the Cross. Only then can the soul go on to the contemplation of transcendent Being.

St. Gregory of Nyssa