At 10:50 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2, Father Gary Thorne received a phone call from a blocked number regarding the stolen piece of chapel history from the University of King’s College.
Thorne said a deep, conspicuous, nervous voice told him, “I have your cross.”
“I was sure the voice on the other end of the phone was a friend trying to take the mickey out of me,” Thorne said with a laugh. But he carried on the conversation anyways, and is very pleased he did.
The chaplain and the young man agreed to meet in person in the chapel.
“I walked in, shook his hand, and he pulled the cross out of his gym bag,” said Thorne who still can’t believe the whole event had taken place. “It was wrapped up in what appeared to be dirty clothes and underwear, but undamaged to say the least.”
The young man handed Thorne the cross, Thorne handed him $200 cash and the mysterious man went on his way.
That young man had been to the school the previous day and ran into Gordon McOuat, a humanities professor at King’s.
“He was incredibly nervous when he knocked on my door,” said McOuat. Then asking if McOuat knew the chaplain or where to find him, he “pulled this piece of paper out of his pocket which was the wanted photo of the cross and it was very tattered,” said McOuat. “Parts of it were torn off and crumpled up.”
Quickly he said to McOuat, “I know where the cross is, my friend has it, and I’m here to collect the reward.”
McOuat was shocked. He gave the young man Thorne’s phone number but didn’t expect him to come back.
But he did and the King’s community is surprised and grateful to have the cross back in its place.
“We took it right away to be polished,” said Karis Tees, a fourth-year student at King’s and a chapel warden. “It was kind of hilarious how it all happened.”
It sits rightfully atop the original alter from the University. Happily so, as Thorne said, “Honest to Pete, I thought it was long gone.”