The media in America was full of reports last week of a mystery priest who came to the aid of a seriously injured young woman trapped at the scene of a critical car accident in eastern Missouri. Rescue workers described his arrival as a "miracle" and say that the girl, 19-year-old university student Katie Lentz -- who had multiple injuries -- had been fading fast until the priest came and prayed with her, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (August 12, 2013).
Although more than 70 photographs were taken at the scene, none of them showed a priest, and the workers, and the girl's family were desperate to know who the priest was. The road had been blocked off a mile in either direction and it did not seem possible that someone could have got to the accident scene unnoticed.
Katie's mother, Carla, said emergency workers have told her there was no way her daughter should have lived inside such a mangled car. She said she believed the priest was an angel who had saved her daughter's life.
Late this afternoon, the mystery priest was identified as Father Patrick Dowling, from the Diocese of Jefferson City. Fr. Patrick explained that he had been on his way to celebrate Mass when he realized there was an accident ahead. He parked his car and walked 150 yards or so to see whether he could do anything to help. He gave Katie absolution, anointed her, and prayed with her for a short time. Then, the rescue workers needed space, so he said: "I stepped to one side and said my rosary silently until the lady was taken from the car -- then I left."
Katie will need more surgery, it was reported today, but the doctors are confident that she will make a full recovery. Indeed, Katie's survival of the accident was a miracle.