I had a crapload of people email me this link to an article titled: ‘Angel’ priest visits Missouri accident scene. It tells the story of 19-year-old Katie Lentz’s horrific accident that left her trapped in her car as emergency workers struggled with failing equipment in their attempt to free her.
With time running out the firemen decided on a risky move that might result in Katie’s condition going from bad to worse:
That’s when Lentz asked if someone would pray with her and a voice said, “I will.”
The silver-haired priest in his 50s or 60s in black pants, black shirt and black collar with visible white insert stepped forward from nowhere. It struck Reed as odd because the street was blocked off 2 miles from the scene and no one from the nearby communities recognized him.
“We’re all local people from four different towns,” Reed said. “We’ve only got one Catholic church out of three towns and it wasn’t their priest.”
Reed and the other emergency workers were on their knees. The priest of about medium build, maybe 6-feet-tall, stood above them.
“This priest approached Katie and began to pray openly with her,” Reed said. “He had a bottle of anointing oil with him and he used that.”
The firemen sat the car upright and Katie’s vitals improved and another team showed up with new equipment that allowed them to free her from the wreck. That’s when Reed went to thank the priest, but he was gone! Even more bizarre, the priest didn’t show up in any of the photos taken at the scene!
“I have 69 photographs that were taken from minutes after that accident happened — bystanders, the extrication, our final cleanup — and he’s not in them,” Reed said. “All we want to do is thank him.”
The most logical explanation folks could come up with? Angels!
“I think it’s a miracle,” Reed said. “I would say whether it was an angel that was sent to us in the form of a priest or a priest that became our angel, I don’t know. Either way, I’m good with it.”
Carla Churchill Lentz, mother of the teen who was critically injured, said emergency workers have told her there is no way her daughter should have lived inside such a mangled car. Of the priest, she said, “I do believe he certainly could have been an angel dressed in priest’s attire because the Bible tells us there are angels among us.”
At least one of the folks who emailed me the article asked how this could be possible? I replied that it’s likely it was just a normal, human priest that no one noticed approach or leave because they were busy working on the car and keeping Katie alive. But what about the photos, they asked. Simple: The priest wasn’t in front of the camera when the photos were taken or was obscured by the people surrounding him. In an emergency situation people’s attention tends to be highly focused on the problem at hand making it easy to not see a lot of what’s going on around them.
As it turns out, that’s pretty much what happened:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The mysterious priest who gave anointing to a Missouri woman trapped in her wrecked car has been identified as Father Patrick Dowling of the Diocese of Jefferson City.
[...] Father Dowling was driving by Center, Mo., while on his way back from offering Mass in Ewing. A native of Ireland, Father Dowling was ordained a priest for the Jefferson City Diocese in 1982. He currently serves in prison ministry, and also ministers to the Spanish-speaking population of the Diocese of Jefferson City.
Though the highway was blocked off, Father Dowling revealed he “did not leave with the other cars.” After parking as close as he could to the scene of the accident, he said he walked the remaining 150 yards.
“I asked the sheriff if a priest might be needed,” he said.
“When the young lady asked that I pray her leg stop hurting, I did so. She asked me to pray aloud, and I did briefly,” he said.
Father Dowling added, “The rescue workers needed space and would not have appreciated distraction. I stepped to one side and said my Rosary silently until the lady was taken from the car.”
At which point the priest walked back to his car and left. Nothing all that mysterious about it. He happened to be passing at the time and he stopped and offered a prayer to someone in need. The only thing amazing about it is how quickly people made the jump to a supernatural explanation. Eyewitness accounts are bad enough when folks aren’t under a lot of stress and they only get worse in the heat of the moment.