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Editorial: Our kind of priest

The Rev. Daniel Mallette retired Sunday as pastor St. Margaret ScotlParish 9837 S. Throop Street.  |  John H.

The Rev. Daniel Mallette retired Sunday as pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, 9837 S. Throop Street. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 3, 2012 6:10AM

The Rev. Daniel Mallette more or less retired on Sunday, more or less growling the whole way.

He’s a tough guy. The best kind of tough guy. He doesn’t like to quit.

We don’t doubt that it was time for Father Mallette to go, to step down after 35 years as pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Longwood Manor. Cardinal Francis George, who replaced Mallette, 80, with a younger priest, is just looking to the future.

But we can’t let Mallette go without a few words of appreciation — and without encouraging him to stay involved at St. Margaret’s as pastor emeritus, even if he means it when he says the new pastor is a “pain in the ass.”

Mallette has always been our kind of priest.

He rode “freedom buses” in Mississippi in 1964 with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

He marched in Selma with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

He picketed for the right of an African-American student to swim in a segregated pool at Loyola University.

He was arrested at Buckingham Fountain, along with James Farmer and Dick Gregory, while protesting the segregation of Chicago’s public schools.

He annoyed an earlier boss, Cardinal John Cody, by driving a cab on weekends, saying he wanted to be more of a working man.

At St. Margaret’s, he built one of Chicago’s most racially diverse congregations, even as churches in other racially changed neighborhoods closed.

He was badly beaten by a burglar who climbed through his window one night, but he still managed to ask the mugger to pray for him.

But that was Mallette — tough and kind, gruff and principled. Growing up in South Chicago, his heroes were the White Sox and a priest who fought for racial integration.

“Father Martin Farrell,” Mallette told the Chicago Catholic newspaper years later. “He was the first guy who said ‘let’s let black kids in our schools.’ ”

Mallette has owned five dogs in a row named Tuffy.

Of course.

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