JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KSDK) - The mystery priest who appeared at an accident scene in eastern Missouri last week came forward in the comments section of astory about the incidentin the National Catholic Register Friday.
The Diocese of Jefferson City has confirmed his identity as Rev.Patrick Dowling, a priest of the Jefferson City Diocese. He wastraveling on Highway 19 between Mass assignments on Aug. 4 in northernand central Missouri.
"I had Mass in Ewing, Mo as the regular priest was sick," Dowling wrote."As I was returning, I arrived at the scene. The authorities wereredirecting traffic. I waited till it was possible to drive up closer.
"...I absolved and anointed Katie and, at her request, prayed that herleg would not be hurt. Then I stepped aside to where some rescuepersonnel and the pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently. Ileft when the helicopter was about to take off, and before I got to mycar it was on its way to Quincy."
Dowling, a native of Kilkenny, Ireland, was ordained a priest at theDiocese of Jefferson City, Mo. in 1982. He has served parishes inMoberly, Monroe City, Indian Creek, Milan, Unionville and Eldon, Mo.,according to a news release. He is currently serving in prison ministryand in parish ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics.
On Aug. 4, Katie Lentz, a student at Tulane University, was drivingfrom her parents' home in Quincy, Ill. to Jefferson City, Mo., when hercar collided with another vehicle. Lentz had life-threatening injuries,and was trapped in the vehicle.
She asked someone to pray with her, and says a voice said "I will."She claimed that a silver-haired priest came forward to pray with her,and stayed until Lentz was airlifted away from the scene. Rescue workersand Lentz never learned the priest's identity.
"I had Mass in Ewing MO as the regular priest was sick. As I wasreturning, I arrived at the scene. The authorities were redirectingtraffic. I waited till it was possible to drive up closer. I parkedbehind a large vehicle about 150 yards from the scene. I asked theSheriff's permission and approached the scene of the accident. Iabsolved and anointed Katie, and, at her request, prayed that her legwould not hurt. Then I stepped aside to where some rescue personnel andthe pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently. I left when thehelicopter was about to take off, and before I got to my car it was onits way to Quincy. I was amazed at the calmness of the two Highwaypatrol men. The sergeant was completely in control, amazingly calm.Everybody worked as harmoniously as a Swiss watch despite the criticalnature of the scene. I gave my name to one of the authorities, perhapsto the sergeant of Highway Patrol, explaining that I was returninghaving celebrated Mass at Ewing. It was the sergeant who, at theSheriff's request, gave me Katie's name as I was leaving, so I couldvisit her in hospital-I assumed she would be taken to Columbia. I thinkthere may have been angels there too and, in this context, Icongratulate the fire team from New London and Hannibal, theSheriff/deputies of Ralls County, the Highway Patrol personnel, thehelicopter team, the nurses and all who worked so professionally. Godhas blessed your work. I hope the credit goes where it is due."
Below is the full statement from the Diocese of Jefferson City:
The Diocese of Jefferson City has identified the priest who assistedat the site of the Sunday morning, August 4, 2013 auto accident nearCenter, Mo. He is Rev. Patrick Dowling, a priest of the Jefferson CityDiocese. Fr. Dowling was travelling Hwy 19 between Mass assignmentsthat morning in northern and central Missouri.
Fr. Dowling said that he is pleased that he was able to help byperforming his ministry and noted that that he was just one of many whoresponded to assist the victim at the accident. He and the Diocese wishto acknowledge and thank the first responders, medical team and lawenforcement personnel for their efforts that morning in aid of the youngwoman injured in the accident.
Fr. Dowling, a native of Kilkenny, Ireland, was ordained a priest of theDiocese of Jefferson City, Mo., in 1982. He has served at parishes inMoberly, Monroe City, Indian Creek, Milan, Unionville and Eldon, Mo.,and in the diocese's mission parishes in Marcona and Nasca, Peru.
He is currently serving in prison ministry and in parish ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics.