82-year-old priest attacked by thieves outside church

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WDAF) -- An 82-year-old priest is recovering in the hospital after thieves attacked him and stole his car.

Father Tom Kearns of Blessed Sacrament Church was unloading a pumpkin from his car Saturday night when he was hit. The thieves took his wallet and fled in his car.

Father Kearns was still in the hospital Sunday night. He has a shattered bone in his face that will require surgery.

Fr. Mark Mertes said Fr. Kearns was parked along 22nd Street right outside the church when the thieves struck.

"The young men noticed he was a bit on his own, and he was kind of tired that day," Mertes said.

Mertes said the congregation is heartbroken.

"People are heartbroken. He had had a fall earlier in May and was just getting back to normal pretty much, so it's pretty sad," Mertes said.

Mertes said Fr. Tom thinks he might have been knocked out for 30 minutes, but it's hard for him to tell, as the incident is quite foggy in his mind.

"We are certainly praying for Father Tom's well-being and his recovery. I did visit with him at the hospital and he said to tell everyone 'I'll be back' so he's got a great spirit," Mertes said.

Fr. Mertes said Fr. Tom is well-known and beloved in this community. He thinks whoever is responsible is not from the area.

The church is praying for the priest as well as the two men who attacked him.

"We are praying for them too because that's important, because I believe that they don't want to go through life hitting 82-year-old men and stealing their car. That's not a way we want to live," Mertes said.

They also have hope things can still be made right.

"I'm still holding out for the car to come back, and the wallet to come back, and his car keys to come back, and apologies can be made, and we can have restitution. That is the Holy Spirit's plan," Mertes said.

Fr. Kearns will have surgery Monday afternoon. He believes the two who did this are in their teens.

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