The identiy of the "mystery priest" who showed up at a crucial moment to minister to a 19-year-old girl trapped in her car after being hit head-on in Missouri last week has been solved. The Diocese of Jefferson City has identified the priest as Father Patrick Dowling.
In a statement released today (Source: The Blaze), the diocese said:
The Diocese of Jefferson City has identified the priest who assisted at the site of the Sunday morning, August 4, 2013 auto accident near Center, Mo. He is Rev. Patrick Dowling, a priest of the Jefferson City Diocese. Fr. Dowling was travelling Hwy 19 between Mass assignments that morning in northern and central Missouri.
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. He and the Diocese wish to acknowledge and thank the first responders, medical team and law enforcement personnel for their efforts that morning in aid of the young woman injured in the accident.
Fr. Dowling, a native of Kilkenny, Ireland, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., in 1982. He has served at parishes in Moberly, 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.
The priest first identified himself via a comment on an article by the Catholic News Agency.
“I thank God and the amazingly competent rescue workers,” Fr. Dowling said. “I thank them for making me welcome in such a highly charged situation and allowing me to minister as a priest.”
The feel-good story of Fr. Dowling's seemingly miraculous intervention has rocketed around the globe and sparked a huge amount of speculation as to his identity. Some have even sugested that he may have been an angel.
"Where did this guy come from?" Lentz's friend Travis Wiseman asked, according to KHQA. "We're looking for the priest and so far, no one has seen him. Whether it was a priest as an angel or an actual angel, he was an angel to all those [he ministered to], and to Katie."
According to first responders, Fr. Dowling showed up about an hour after Katie Lentz's Mercedes was hit head-on, and at a point when rescuers had begun to despair of extracting her from the mangled wreckage of the vehicle. Because of the hard body of the Mercedes, their cutting equipment wasn't working, and Lentz's condition was continuing to worsen, to the point paramedics thought she wasn't going to make it.
However, after the priest arrived, he annointed Katie and prayed with her. According to rescuers at the scene, he also told them that their equipment would work. Shortly thereafter, a nearby department arrived with new eqipment, and they successfully removed Katie from her vehicle. She is now in hospital recovering.
Rescuers at the accident were puzzled about where the priest came from, given that the road was blocked for some two miles. They also said that he disappeared without anyone seeing him leave and didn't appear in any of the 80 photographs taken at the accident.
However, Fr. Dowling told CNA today that he was simply performing the normal duties of a Catholic priest, but admitted: "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.”
The priest denied that he had ever told the rescuers that their equipment would begin to work.
Patheos Catholic blog editor Elizabeth Scalia responded to the news that the priest had been identified, saying that the event, while apparently not "miraculous" in the strict sense, was, "what some Catholics call 'the usual supernatural' in the sense that God had placed Father Dowling at that place, at that time, and of course, for the use of the sacrament of anointing (and the prayers of those in attendance, and whatever Guardian Angels were around)…"
Read the CNA article here.