By Barbara Kralis
How many of us American Catholics are willing to admonish the sinner (which is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy) and to evangelize? Not many. But Mary Stachowicz was willing, and for doing so she was brutally murdered. The crime was committed in Chicago on November 13, 2002, the feast day of St. Frances Cabrini — virgin, and the first U.S. saint to be canonized.
Mary, the gentle, devout 51-year-old Catholic mother of four asked a homosexual man, Nicholas Gutierrez, 19, “Why do you want to have sex with boys instead of girls?” Gutierrez said she began to counsel him about his problem.
Gutierrez confessed that he became furious when Mary asked him the question. Allegedly, he brutally punched and kicked Mary; next, he mutilated her body with multiple stab wounds. While Mary was still alive, he shoved a garbage bag over her head, strangled her, and jammed her body into the crawl space under the floor of his Chicago apartment, located above the Sikorski Funeral Home, where they both worked. The Funeral Home is right across the street from Mary’s parish, where moments before she had received Holy Communion.
Her mutilated body was discovered three days after she was slaughtered.
Mary, a Polish-English translator, was witnessing to her Catholic faith and was murdered — martyred — for it.
The mainstream secular news media don’t want to touch this story, because it’s about homosexuality.
Legislation has been passed in certain states to make it a punishable criminal offense to speak out against homosexuality. In New York City, “tolerant” Democrats have made it a crime to condemn homosexuality using Bible verses. In Canada, it’s illegal to speak one’s convictions concerning the practice of homosexuality. TV, radio, and print media in Canada cannot use Bible passages that condemn homosexuality without penalty. Some Canadians have already been jailed for their convictions.
Most Christians are already timid about teaching God’s truth on the mortal sin of sodomy, without the added fear of being imprisoned for doing so. Mary wasn’t intimidated.
The allegedly Catholic Senators Tom Daschle and Ted Kennedy are co-sponsoring a bill that would increase the federal government’s ability to prosecute “hate crimes,” that would give homosexuals more protection under federal law than heterosexuals. In other words, a heterosexual person isn’t worth as much as a homosexual person.
That Mary cared enough to intervene didn’t surprise her pastor. “She was a very intense person concerned about the good of the parish, always seeking things for the poor as well as the spiritual welfare of people,” said Fr. Francis Rog of St. Hyacinth Catholic Church.
Alas, Mary is forgotten, even though her murder was less than six months ago. Where’s the outrage from Christians? From Catholics? From America’s bishops?
The two Chicago dailies treated the story gingerly: Of Mary’s murder, the Chicago Sun-Times on November 18 carried the headline, “Arrest in Funeral Home Death.” The day before it said, “Body Found in Funeral Home Was Stabbed.” The Chicago Tribune carried the headline, “Body Identified as Missing Woman.” The final piece published in the Tribune was subtly headlined, “Quarrel Preceded Slaying, Officials Say.” The subhead, in small print, gave the only hint about what took place: “Suspect’s Lifestyle Allegedly at Issue.” In almost every other city, the story was censored. Homosexuals have preferential treatment in the media. Within a 30-day period, in 1998, over 3,000 articles were written about Matthew Shepard, the homosexual college student killed in Wyoming. What a double standard!
Reactions to the murder of Mary on homosexual websites and chat lines have been reported to range from “She deserved what she got” to “Where do I send a check for Gutierrez’s defense?” to “Maybe this will send a message to the religious zealots to mind their own business.”
Peter LaBarbera, senior policy analyst for the Culture and Family Institute for Concerned Women for America, said: “If a gay man had been murdered for trying to convince someone to be gay, it would be a national news story and deemed a hate crime. But when a gay man murders a woman who tried to convince him to change, the media spike the story. If Matthew Shepard’s murder deserved national media attention, then why not Mary Stachowicz’s?… It’s going to be hard for people to say this is not an anti-Christian hate crime committed by a homosexual activist.”
Mary Stachowicz’s death is similar to that of St. Maria Goretti, her namesake. St. Maria was brutally stabbed to death as she resisted Alessandro Serenelli’s sinful, lustful advances. Will we ever witness the repentance and return to God of Mary’s murderer, as we witnessed the dramatic conversion of Alessandro Serenelli, Maria’s murderer? Alessandro spent the rest of his life traveling the world to witness of God’s mercy and forgiveness until his death in 1970 at the Capuchin convent of Macerata, where he lived out the final days of his life in reparation. Above all, will we ever see Mary Stachowicz recognized by the American bishops for her courage?
[Barbara Kralis, former editor of the Catholic newsletter Semper Fidelis, directs, with her husband, Mitch, the Jesus Through Mary Foundation in Howe, Texas. The foregoing article by Barbara Kralis, "The Celebrated Matthew Shepard & The Forgotten Mary Stachowicz" was originally published in New Oxford Review (May 2003), and is reproduced here by kind permission of New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706. Barbara Kralis may be reached by email at Avemaria@earthlink.net.]
Related: The Blagojevich connection.