by Jennifer Brinker
ST. LOUIS (CNS) – The identity of a “mystery” priest who prayed with a young woman at the scene of an accident in central Missouri has been solved.
The Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., has identified the priest as Father Patrick Dowling, a native of Kilkenny, Ireland, who is currently serving in prison ministry and in parish ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics in the diocese.
Local and national media described an “angel priest” or a “mystery priest” suddenly appearing at the scene to pray with an accident victim and then just as suddenly vanishing.
The diocese noted that Father Dowling was traveling that Sunday on state Highway 19 between Mass assignments in northern and central Missouri. He stopped at the accident scene near Center, where 19-year-old Katie Lentz of Quincy, Ill., was trapped in her car with serious injuries.
The Missouri Highway Patrol, New London Rural Fire, Hannibal Fire and Ralls County Sheriff’s departments assisted at the accident site.
The priest discovered later that his presence at the accident had become the center of media attention.
He eventually came forward by contacting the Jefferson City Diocese and posting an online comment to a story about the accident at the National Catholic Register’s website:
“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. I stepped aside to where some rescue personnel and the pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently. I left when the helicopter was about to take off, and before I got to my car it was on its way to Quincy.”