The “miracle priest” who anointed a teenage Missouri woman trapped in her car has been identified as Irish cleric Fr. Patrick Dowling of the Diocese of Jefferson City. Father Dowling is a native of Kilkenny.
Described as an ‘angel priest’ in extensive media reports on the August 4th accident, speculation on the priest’s identity had been a major focus.
The Catholic News Agency has now released an interview with Fr. Dowling confirming he was the priest who came to Katie Lentz’s aid after her Mercedes was struck by another vehicle.
Rescue workers had spent an hour trying to get the stricken Lantz out of her vehicle when Fr. Dowling came by the scene of the accident.
He was driving by Center, Mo., while on his way back from offering Mass in Ewing.
Kilkenny born Fr Dowling revealed: “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 rescue helicopter pilot was waiting, and prayed the rosary silently. I left when the helicopter was about to take off.”
Katie’s family and friends want to personally thank the priest whose identity has remained a mystery until now.
Fire Chief Raymond Reed even said the department took 80 photos of the scene and the priest did not appear in any of them.
Now Fr. Dowling has revealed he to be the ‘angel’ priest but insists he was only doing his job.
He told the Catholic News Agency: “I thank God and the amazingly competent rescue workers.
“I thank them for making me welcome in such a highly charged situation and allowing me to minister as a priest.”
Ordained a priest for the Jefferson City Diocese in 1982, Fr Dowling serves in prison ministry and also ministers to the Spanish-speaking population of the diocese.
After parking as close as he could to the accident, Fr Dowling walked the remaining 150 yards to the scene.
He added: “I asked the sheriff if a priest might be needed. When the young lady asked that I pray her leg stop hurting, I did so. She asked me to pray aloud, and I did briefly.
“The rescue workers needed space and would not have appreciated distraction. I stepped to one side and said my Rosary silently until the lady was taken from the car.”
Fr Dowling added that that the rescue workers ‘worked with the harmony of a Swiss watch’.
He said: “The Highway Patrol sergeant was amazingly calm and completely in control.
“Once the woman was cut free, I then shook hands with the sheriff and thanked him as I left. I have to admire the calmness of everybody involved.”
Father Dowling has confirmed that he gave Lentz the anointing of the sick as well as absolution.
He said: “That is the normal duties of a priest except that there was something extraordinary it sounds like, in the sequence of events that coincided in time with the anointing.
“You must remember: There were many people praying there, many, many people … and they were all praying, obviously, for healing and for her safety.
“I was probably part of the answer to their prayers: I came by, and anointed, and absolved.”
Fr. Dowling also told the CAN that he could not explain other mysterious events that coincided with his ministering at the accident scene.
He added: “I didn't say another word. I did not say anything like the machinery would begin to work or they would succeed in getting her out of the car.
“That did not come from my lips, though two people heard it.”
Here’s the Fox News report on Father Dowling: