Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl has visited and administered the Sacrament of the Sick to a College Park man who was attacked outside of his parish church on Christmas Eve as arrived to attend Christmas midnight Mass.

Wayne Williams, 69, was robbed and severely beaten as he arrived Dec. 24 to attend the midnight Mass at Holy Redeemer Church on Berwyn Road in College Park. According to press reports, Williams was beaten with what police believe was a baseball bat in the church parking lot just before the Mass. He was taken to Washington Hospital Center.

"When I heard on Christmas Day at the Mass (I celebrated) at the National Shrine that Mr. Williams had been attacked and was in the hospital, my first instinct was to visit him and to pray for him, but also to offer some support for his family," Archbishop Wuerl said. "I went to the intensive care unit where I was able to pray and give him the Sacrament of the Sick."

As the Catholic Standard went to press Dec. 29, Mr. Williams was still listed in critical condition, although he was thought to be improving from his head wounds.

Archbishop Wuerl said that he talked to Father George Wilkinson, the pastor of the parish, and also tried to contact Williams' wife.

"I left word with the family of my concern, my prayers and my solidarity," Archbishop Wuerl said. "I also wanted to show solidarity with the whole parish that was suffering at that point."

On Monday, Father Wilkinson told the Catholic Standard that he had visited with Williams.

Father Wilkinson said that he told his parish that he realizes that "it is not easy to be a Christian, especially when you see someone you know and care about terribly and brutally beaten."

"I told them that this is the season of light when we celebrate the Prince of Peace," the priest said. "We obviously want to keep Wayne Williams in our prayers, but I asked (the people of the parish) also to pray for his assailant, that he seek and find the type of psychiatric assistance he needs."

Archbishop Wuerl said that he wanted to reach out to the Williams family and to the parishioners of Holy Redeemer Church because "it is just a shock to everybody that this happened at Christmas, happened to a parishioner, and happened so close to the church."

"This is a reminder why Christ came in the first place. He came to bring to us that spiritual healing that the human race so desperately needs. The human condition is such that violence, anger, injustice are a part of what we see all around us," Archbishop Wuerl said. "The story of Christmas is that we should be working together in goodwill and love to overcome these situations and to have truly a world of peace and love for one another."