The road traffic accident victim whose life was saved by a mysterious angel priest has publicly thanked Irish-born Fr Patrick Dowling for his divine intervention.
Teenager Katie Lentz was trapped in her convertible Mercedes after a head on collision with a vehicle driven by a drunk driver on Route 19.
The Illinois student was pinned inside the car and fading fast when she asked her rescuers to pray.
A mysterious priest appeared and began to offer up a blessing after which rescuers were able to pull Katie from the car and deliver her to safely.
When the rescuers turned to thank the mysterious priest he had vanished.
Now recovering from her injuries, which include 12 broken bones in her legs and ribs, Lentz has made her gratitude known publicly according to the Daily Mail website.
She said her recovery has been spurred on by people believing her rescue was divine intervention.
The 19-year-old can now walk up to 150 feet unaided - a personal milestone for the college student who suffered huge injuries in the collision on August 4th.
The report says there was speculation for a time that Lentz may have been visited by the spirit of Catholic Saint Padre Pio after the priest who prayed with her and the first responders vanished after she was freed from her Mercedes convertible on Route 19.
She told ABC News: “Their calmness kept me calm as well. So I cannot express my gratitude enough toward them.”
“I had no idea what state my body was in at that time, and they all knew.
“I haven’t come to the full realization that I had a near-death experience. It hasn’t hit me yet.”
It was only after the accident that it emerged that the mysterious priest was in fact Fr Dowling, a native of Kilkenny who was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City in 1982.
He has served at parishes in Moberly, Monroe City, Indian Creek, Milan, Unionville and Eldon, Missouri, and in the diocese’s mission parishes in Marcona and Nasca, Peru and is currently serving in prison ministry and in parish ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics.
New London fire chief Raymond Reed said: “It struck me as odd from the start as Highway 19 was blocked off for two miles in each direction and no one from the close-knit community recognized the man.
“We’re all local people from four different towns. We’ve only got one Catholic church out of three towns and it wasn’t their priest.”
The report says that immediately after the 6ft tall priest gave his blessing, the emergency workers righted the car, stabilized Lentz’s vital signs and cut her out once the jaws of life appeared from a neighboring town. She was put in an air ambulance and her life was saved.
Fr Dowling was quickly dubbed the ‘angel priest’ and in his absence he became a national celebrity.
He later told ABC News: “I have no doubt the Most High answered their prayers and I was part of his answer, but only part.”
Lentz, still recovering in hospital, also spoke of her pride that her story has inspired so many people across America.
She added: “I love hearing that support, because it’s what drives me to push myself harder everyday with therapy.
“It is hard sometimes, but I realize that so many people have been touched by this, so I have to keep focused on the good and not bad, because it’ll just bring me down. And I definitely don’t want that.”