The identity of a mystery priest whose visit to a Missouri crash site earlier this month was being hailed as a miracle has finally been revealed.
Father Patrick Dowling of the Diocese of Jefferson City, a priest since 1982, revealed in a comment on the National Catholic Register that he was the man who prayed with Katie Lentz while authorities tried to extract her from the vehicle following a life threatening car accident that left her pinned between the steering wheel and the seat.
"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," Dowling wrote about the August 4 accident.
The comment has since been deleted.
Dowling's presence at the accident was a mystery because authorities claimed he appeared out of the blue, did not show up in any of the pictures of the incident and disappeared without being seen.
The priest, however, said there was really no mystery to his visit and added that he told a deputy who he was before leaving.
The Jefferson City diocese confirmed Dowling's account in a press release.
"Fr. Dowling said that he is pleased that he was able to help by performing his ministry and noted that that he was just one of many who responded to assist the victim at the accident," the statement said.
In his comment, Dowling explained he was on the highway because another priest had called in sick. He credited the Highway Patrol men for saving Lentz live claiming they had "worked as harmoniously as a Swiss watch despite the critical nature of the scene."
Lentz is still hospitalized and charges against the diver whose car hit hers are still pending.
You can read Dowling's full comment below.
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.
Dowling works in prison ministry and with Spanish-speaking parishioners, the diocese said.