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St. Margaret of Scotland parish priest Father Bill O'Donnell speaks out after controversy over Father Dan Mallette

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Parents and parishioners left a packed meeting at St. Margaret of Scotland Church on the South Side Tuesday night.

"It's shaken me, but I'm not going to run," said Tonetta Oliver, parent.

In less than a week's time, the church's priest of the last 30 years, Father Dan Mallette, has been threatened with eviction. The church school's assistant principal was suspended, and on Tuesday the well-respected principal quit.

"He was very nice, it's just hard," said Derrick Washington, St. Margaret of Scotland student.

"It would be very arrogant of me to think I was not somehow part of the problem. That perhaps I didn't do this correctly," Father Bill O'Donnell told ABC7.

Fingers have pointed at Father O'Donnell. He's been called arrogant, even a bully, by the priest he replaced.

But Father O'Donnell says he's the one who's been treated poorly. At a recent meeting, he says a now suspended assistant principal lunged at him twice.

"I was physically intimidated and, in fact, other teachers in the room stepped between us to stop it," said Father O'Donnell.

The principal's resignation letter says working with O'Donnell and the archdiocese that sent him has caused him to question his faith. Father Michael Pfleger, of St. Sabina's, is his pastor.

"It's hard to call our parishioners to model and respect and care about each other if we don't do it in leadership, and I think it sends a very poor message," said Fr. Pfleger.

When priests retire in the Chicago archdiocese, they are required to live off the premises for six months so the new pastor can get settled.

Despite that rule, Mallette has stayed at the rectory, even though the new priest has been in place since last year.

Mallette was beaten and robbed last December when men broke into the rectory.

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