5 months after church stabbing, priest ‘not angry’ at attacker

| October 12, 2009

SINTON, Texas – The Rev. Shaji Varghese was kicked, beaten and stabbed nearly 20 times. He received last rites twice in a single day. Still, he harbors no anger toward his attacker.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church could have been the scene of his death five months ago. Instead, it’s where he is living one of the most important lessons in the Bible – forgiveness.

"I don’t take this incident as something very bad because this incident taught me so many things," Varghese said. "It made my vocation more stronger, my loyalty toward God more stronger. I was made more sure that my God is such a caring one. We are not perfect. It made me know that God answers to the prayers and God supports."

On May 8, David Rodriguez, who has a mentally troubled past, approached Varghese, 42, after Mass and asked him to hear his confession.

Minutes after hearing the confession, Varghese was found about 100 yards from the side of the church, soaked in his own blood. Rodriguez was arrested about an hour later.

"I was thinking my time was almost over," Varghese said. "I went to sleep, but on the third day I started seeing people."

Rodriguez has remained in the San Patricio County Jail since the stabbing, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is undergoing psychiatric evaluations to determine whether he is competent to stand trial, his attorney said.

The response from Varghese’s parishioners was immediate.

"They were stunned," Varghese said. "And they were scared. I started knowing the community when it happened. This is an incident that brought the community together to pray for a special cause – that is my life. They started working together."

Guadalupe Aguilar, 71, often prayed for the priest in front of the church.And while Varghese has been on the mend, parishioners have had regular get-togethers with their priest to give thanks that he survived, Aguilar said.

"We need to let him know how much we would have missed him and how thankful we are," he said.

Day-to-day actions such as stretching, which pulls the scars on his torso, remind Varghese of his ordeal.

"But here," he said, pointing to his heart, "I’m not angry at him."

Varghese has not visited Rodriguez in jail, though he said he may as he heals more. He regularly asks parishioners who work at the jail how Rodriguez is doing.

"I pray for him," Varghese said. "God bless, God forgive David."



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Category: Church Security

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