Written by 2:39 pm In the News

Catholic priest shot by thieves

A Jesuit priest was shot at outside his home, suffering a graze wound in the encounter with two car thieves.

The Catholic priest in Chicago sustained injuries after being fired upon by individuals reportedly engaged in the act of stealing catalytic converters.

Fr Jeremiah Lynch heard what sounded like construction work early Monday morning outside the Jesuit residence where he lives in Little Italy on Chicago’s West Side.

The priest reportedly “poked his head out the door” and “saw something unusual happening” in the parking lot of the residence, Kristyn Hartman, a spokeswoman for nearby St. Ignatius College Prep, told local Chicago station WLS-TV Monday.

The house is located just north of the school’s campus.

After inquiring about the situation, the individuals opened fire on the priest.

Fr Lynch said, “‘Hey, what are you doing?’” Hartman told the news network. “And that’s when they started shooting.”

“Father Lynch is a rooted member of the community,” Hartman said. “He works at the Cook County Jail as a chaplain and does wonderful work for our community.”

Hartman said the fact of a young person valuing a catalytic converter over a life is a problem that Chicago must be addressed as a city – and a problem that is not limited to Chicago.

The priest reportedly received a grazing gunshot wound to his head but was otherwise unharmed. Several bullets struck the Jesuit residence in which the priest lives.

“I’m praying for the person who shot at me,” Fr Lynch told the Chicago Sun-Times.

St. Ignatius did not respond to a query on the shooting. The Archdiocese of Chicago, meanwhile, did not directly address the incident, though a spokesman shared a statement from the Midwest Province of the Jesuits who said they were “so grateful that Father Lynch wasn’t seriously hurt in this incident.”

“We pray for the continued safety of the entire St. Ignatius College Prep community,” the statement said.

The 73-year-old Fr Lynch lives in the Chicago residence with about 15 other Jesuits, according to media reports. The priests serve the school and nearby Stroger Hospital.

Fr Lynch also serves as a chaplain at Cook County Jail.

Chicago has lately experienced a major surge in several types of crimes. Police data show a 169% increase in motor vehicle thefts in the city relative to four years ago and a 74% increase in thefts overall.

Hartman told Block Club Chicago that the area is “vibrant” and “busy,” with significant activity from students attending the nearby University of Chicago and Ignatius preparatory high school, which has an enrolment of about 1,300. School was out of session at the time of the shooting.

(Catholic News Agency; Picture Courtesy: Elo4kam, Wikimedia Commons)

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