After 35 years at his Southwest Side parish, 80-year-old Rev. Daniel Mallette, considered a fighter among his dedicated congregation, is fighting to stay.
Rev. Mallette was honored Sunday at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, and his replacement, Father William O'Donnell was installed.
In a statement, the Chicago Archdiocese said it's removing Mallette because the rectory itself is in disrepair and unsafe to live in. But the reverend disagrees.
"If it's in bad shape -- I've been here for 40!" said Mallette.
St. Margaret parishioners said Rev. Mallette is a pillar of the community, but many Chicagoans weren't introduced to him until last winter, when burglars broke into the rectory and severely beat him. The altercation left him with broken ribs, black eyes and severe bruising.
"If there's one thing I can really say about Dan? He's a fighter!" said Father George Clements. "He's been a fighter since he was 14 years old when I was first met him."
A group of parishioners and parents of children who go to St. Margaret's School are joining the fight to keep him here. They're asking church members to flood the offices of the Chicago Archdiocese with letters, phone calls and emails protesting the transition to a new pastor.
"They shouldn't put him out," said parent Kim Alford. "And I don't know why more people aren't standing up and rallying behind him. I think he should stay here."
"This is a Catholic Institution," said parishioner and parent Kara Hunches. "We need to be teaching Catholic values. Putting someone out, that is not Catholic values."
Asked this morning where he was going to live, Mallette said, "I don't know."