Until today, the identity of the “mysterious” priest on the scene of a threatening car accident in Missouri was unknown. Father Patrick Dowling of the Diocese of Jefferson City, prayed with Katie Lentz who was pinned between the steering wheel and the seat of her vehicle.
Dowling, who has been a priest since 1982, commented on the National Catholic Register that he was the priest on the scene of the accident. His full comment was: I had Mass in Ewing MO as the regular priest was sick. As I was returning, I arrived at the scene. The authorities were redirecting traffic. I waited till it was possible to drive up closer. I parked behind a large vehicle about 150 yards from the scene. I asked the Sheriff’s permission and approached the scene of the accident. I absolved and anointed Katie, and, at her request, prayed that her leg would not hurt. Then I stepped aside to where some rescue personnel and the pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently. I left when the helicopter was about to take off, and before I got to my car it was on its way to Quincy. I was amazed at the calmness of the two Highway patrol men. The sergeant was completely in control, amazingly calm. Everybody worked as harmoniously as a Swiss watch despite the critical nature of the scene. I gave my name to one of the authorities, perhaps to the sergeant of Highway Patrol, explaining that I was returning having celebrated Mass at Ewing. It was the sergeant who, at the Sheriff’s request, gave me Katie’s name as I was leaving, so I could visit her in hospital — I assumed she would be taken to Columbia.I think there may have been angels there too and, in this context, I congratulate the fire team from New London and Hannibal, the Sheriff/deputies of Ralls County, the Highway Patrol personnel, the helicopter team, the nurses and all who worked so professionally. God has blessed your work. I hope the credit goes where it is due.
He didn’t understand the mystery surrounding his aid. He had given his name to a deputy on the scene of the accident and also asked for Katie’s name. After praying with Katie, he left the scene and told the rescuers to stay calm and their tools would now work. Katie wanted to thank her “angel” but since there were no pictures and his departure was silent, a mystery scenario soon developed.
Katie Lentz is still hospitalized and charges against the driver whose vehicle caused the tragic accident are still pending.
We can all hope that, angel or not, if in the same situation a Father Dowling would come to our rescue.