Prayer service for nun who was raped draws 200 in Aliquippa
Nearly 200 people gathered outside St. Titus Catholic Church in Aliquippa on Friday in peace and forgiveness for the man accused of raping an 85-year-old nun last month.
The Rev. Paul Householder sprinkled holy water on the church's rear parking lot to wash away the stain of violence. People on the gloomy, chilly day prayed, “Send forth your blessing of peace upon this place. Heal every heart wounded by violence.”
Church bells pealed at the onset of the service. A statue of the Blessed Mother Mary, perched 30 feet above on a muddy hillside, watched over the crowd.
“It's such a tribute to the sister, that this is so peaceable,” said Dolly Stalter, of West View, who attended with her husband, Jim. “The public needs to know God is involved no matter what the situation is.”
On Dec. 13, the retired nun was putting newspapers in a recycling bin outside the church when was she was sexually assaulted.
The Tribune-Review does not identify victims of sexual violence.
Police said that hours after the attack, Andrew Bullock, 19, of Aliquippa confessed to choking her. Court documents state that he punched her in the face, dislocated her jaw and sexually assaulted her.
“Today we gather in prayer to remove that mark of violence from this place and from our hearts,” said Sister Jeanette Bussen, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden.
Bullock remains in the Beaver County Jail, awaiting trial on sexual assault and related offenses.
The injured nun did not attend the service. Instead, 14 other retired nuns prayed with her at the Baden motherhouse, said Barbara Hecht, director of communications.
No one during or after the service called for retribution against Bullock. People prayed for him.
“We remember her attacker and his family also wounded by violence,” said Sister Barb Czyrnik said.
Also remembered were the 830 people who were assaulted in Beaver County in 2013.
“By responding prayerfully to the tragedy of our dear Sister, it is our hope that we can move toward healing, not only for her, but also for the parish of St. Titus and the community of Aliquippa,” said Sister Mary Pellegrino, congregational moderator for the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Beaver County District Attorney Anthony J. Berosh attended, as did Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker and Assistant Police Chief Donald Couch.
Walker and Couch met with the nun on Thursday and said she expressed her gratitude for the outpouring of love and prayer, but insisted that the community must move forward.
“She said she felt a shower of prayers coming down on her, and she asked God to take those prayers away from her to give them to all the other victims in the world of these types of crimes,” Couch said.
“I was just amazed about her love and compassion. She said that after today, she doesn't want anyone to mention it anymore. She wants everyone to move on, to get on one accord, get right with God, and move forward as a community,” Walker said.
Bob Day, a maintenance employee at St. Titus, said he was pleased with the number of people who attended.
“I'm surprised, because the people don't come together in this town anymore. It's a shame,” Day said.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
- Pitt oversight of background checks for youth camp staffers was spotty, audit finds
- PennDOT announces Parkway closings and single lanes for next week, weather permitting
- Loose barges on the Mon highlight woes of winter’s end
- Pittsburgh has enough salt despite delivery refusal on Thursday, official says
- Train hits PennDOT truck plow in Indiana County, driver not hurt
- Angry fans cited in shortage of refs in Western Pennsylvania
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
- Franklin Regional robotics team ready for FIRST Recycle Rush