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Nebraska priest dies after attack during apparent rectory break-in

The Washington County Sheriff's Office investigates the scene of a fatal stabbing at the rectory of St. John the Baptist Parish in Fort Calhoun, Neb., Dec. 10, 2023. Father Stephen Gutgsell, pastoral administrator of the church died after being attacked in his rectory in the early morning of the Second Sunday of Advent. (OSV News photo/Nikos Frazier, Omaha World-Herald)


OMAHA, Neb. (OSV News) — A Nebraska priest has died after being attacked in the rectory of his parish in the early morning of the Second Sunday of Advent. Father Stephen Gutgsell was found “suffering from injuries sustained during an assault” Dec. 10 at the rectory of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, where he served as pastoral administrator. According to a Dec. 10 press release from the Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson, the county’s 911 emergency dispatch received an emergency call that day at approximately 5:05 a.m. reporting an attempted break-in at the rectory. Deputies arrived within six minutes and took a suspect into custody while the injured priest was transported to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where he later died from his injuries. Robinson said the investigation is ongoing and told local media he does not believe the death is related to the deceased priest’s 2007 conviction for embezzling more than $125,000 from a former parish, for which he received five years’ probation and was returned to ministry following a successful residential rehabilitation program. The priest’s final bulletin message to his flock spoke of St. John the Baptist, their patron, who is “to remind us of what we all should be preparing to receive in the Advent Season” before asking God’s blessing on them and their families “in this Wonderful Season of Grace.”

For the full OSV News story, see your local Catholic news source.

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