.- A priest who was critically stabbed just after a Friday morning Mass in a town near Corpus Christi is recovering. His bishop has called for prayers for both the priest and his attacker.
Fr. Shaji Varghese, 42, was attacked at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish at about 7:30 am by a 36-year-old parishioner named David A. Rodriguez. Rodriguez stabbed, kicked and beat the priest, who is a native of India.
According to KRIS-TV, Fr. Varghese was taken to Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital by helicopter, where he was initially listed in critical condition.
The priest, whom parishioners described as inspirational and motivated, was appointed to the parish in October 2007.
"Because of him I started going back to church," churchgoer Elizabeth Soliz told KRIS-TV. "Why would anyone do anything like that to a priest, especially him? I just can't believe it."
The church was closed for two days, but reopened on Sunday morning with a Rite of Reparation Mass celebrated by Bishop of Corpus Christi Edmond Carmody. Hundreds attended.
"A large number of people here came out because they wanted to be united and comfort each other and help each other," Bishop Carmody told KRIS-TV.
He explained that the church is praying for the priest’s speedy recovery. The bishop said he is also urging the church to pray for the priest’s alleged attacker.
"David needs healing also and I had the privileged to go by his cell and pray with him and pray for him," Bishop Carmody said.
On Friday police charged Rodriguez with aggravated assault and tampering with evidence.
Hospital officials said that Father Varghese appears to be recovering, KRIS-TV reported on Sunday.