Jul 9, 2015

A place I felt safe at, will it ever be the same again?

A 78 year old Catholic woman who volunteered for a Grass Valley Catholic church was brutally beaten and left for dead July 5, 2015 in an attempted murder and car jacking.

Details that were not in the news but shared through a facebook post on a Catholic group page from a church source said that the woman weighed less than 100 pounds;  she was beaten severely in the head and face; then picked up and tossed in the bushes were she lay unconscious for three hours until she was discovered.

Last June, two Arizona priests were shot dead in a botched burglary attempt and their car was stolen. The suspect was a former felon released two months earlier from prison living in a half way house.

The night before he was released from Humboldt County Correctional Facility, the same night that minutes later, he went to St. Bernard’s Church and he brutally murdered and tortured Fr. Eric, tried to set the rectory on fire and stole his car, was not Gary Lee Bullock’s first encounter with the criminal justice system. He too was released  into the community, again. Unlike, the Grass Valley suspect and the Arizona suspect,  Bullock was not transient or living in a half way house. He was the only one on cameras documented entering and exiting the rectory. There is no doubt who killed Fr. Eric.

Gary Lee Bullock violated the sacred space of my church and brutally murdered my priest Fr. Eric January 1, 2014. Two months later, the rectory was broken into, again, by a former drug addict who walked down three blocks from a halfway house.  Later the same  year, a church door vandalized, which would have burned completely had the fire alarms not gone off.

During Christmas last year, someone stole a Christmas ornament specially made for Fr. Eric which was supposed to be given to his twin sister who has moved to Humboldt.

We have never had so many incidents in the Church in one year.

Mentally ill and confrontational transients are outside and inside my church daily. We still welcome everyone.

 On a Sundays and many others days, like this woman, I am alone opening up church. On the day, Fr. Eric’s body was later discovered, I had walked up the pathway to the church, alone.

Many churches, including ours, have volunteers and staff alone at times.

The police cannot do much about someone mentally ill or even loitering unless there is attack.

A place I felt safe at has never been the same again.

I don't cower in fear; lack of my personal safety does not consume my thoughts all the time. In fact you could not tell because faith and joy has not been extinguished by Bullock.

But this recent article and others have brought up the pain and devastation of January 1, 2014 again.

While criminals and the insane roam the streets of Eureka and other places terrorizing citizens, Bullock and others sit safe and warm and physically protected by brave men and women just doing their job. They are further shielded by legal rights and excuse after excuse made for them even when they feel no remorse and accept no responsibility. All this on tax payer dime after their decisions and weaknesses cause devastating consequences.

These church goers, our church, the congregation in South Carolina pray and forgive the very people who violate and hurt us.

Forgiveness is good. Faith is a great source of strength in coping with tragedy.

It should never be an excuse for society to overlook the rights and feelings of the innocent victims.

To come to a point of forgiveness for someone heinous is not easy, even if we make it look easy.


  1. No, it's not easy! I would find it very, very difficult.

    But isn't that one of the great strengths of Christianity, not just Catholicism? Love and forgiveness. It's a beautiful thing.

  2. In the Jewish tradition, I believe, every person has a duty to forgive those who have transgressed against them, if the transgressor displays honest repentance. In fact, to refuse forgiveness after it is requested is considered a sin. But there is no duty to forgive if the transgressor does not repent their transgression, or goes so far as to deny it took place.

    Yes, forgiveness is difficult. But I believe it is a theme of a great many traditions, not just Christianity.

    1. Mitch, I have not seen forgiveness practiced in a great many traditions either in word or action.And I was not raised Christian. I appreciate your pointing out the Jewish tradition. I expressed my personal journey in the light of my personal experiences.
      I am Catholic. No where in my post did I say forgiveness is exclusive to a Christian.