Mystery Priest at Missouri Car Accident Identified

PHOTO: Rev. Patrick Dowling
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The mystery priest who seemingly came from nowhere to pray with an accident victim at the scene of a head-on car crash in Missouri has come forward to say that he was only doing the basic job of a priest and most of the credit goes to God, who "took such good care of" the injured woman.

"I have no doubt the Most High answered their prayers and I was part of his answer, but only part," the Rev. Patrick Dowling told ABC News Monday.

First responders had said they were convinced the mystery priest was sent from above.

Dowling, a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, was the clergyman who showed up when an allegedly drunken driver hit Katie Lentz, of Quincy, Mo., head-on Aug. 4 while traveling on Route 19 near Center, Mo. The accident pinned the 19-year-old in the front seat of her vehicle.

"I was coming from 8:30 a.m. mass and shortly after that I saw this line of cars," Dowling recounted.

Lentz was barely clinging to life and her vital signs were failing fast when she asked rescue crews to pray with her. That's when first responders say a man who looked like a Catholic priest seemed to appear out of nowhere, despite a 2-mile perimeter blocking the scene.

"One of the rescuers said to me, 'We need all the help we can get right now,'" Dowling said.

Dowling had anointing oil with him. He prayed, gave Lentz the anointing of the sick, as well as absolution.

"There was a calmness that, to me, seemed to come over the entire scene," New London Fire Chief Raymond Reed said.

But that's not the only seemingly divine detail. Firefighters say their equipment kept failing until the mystery man appeared.

After Dowling performed his duties, he left the scene. But his sudden disappearance only added to the air of mystery. Dowling wasn't in any of the nearly 70 photos or videos taken near the scene, which left many wondering whether he was an angel from above.

It wasn't long before the entire town and soon the country were searching for this seemingly heavenly hero who was dubbed the "angel priest."

Lentz was eventually airlifted to a local hospital with broken legs and ribs. Dowling had a chance to meet with Lentz Saturday in the intensive care unit.

"I told her I'm the priest who stopped by the site and she started to cry. I don't know why," Dowling said. "I think it was the most disappointing moment of all that I wasn't an angel or something."

While Lentz's savior might have salt and pepper hair instead of a halo, those closest to the teen say they still believe Dowling is an angel among men.

"Let's remember it was the all mighty who loved that little girl so much and took such good care of her," he said.

A native of Ireland, Dowling was ordained a priest for the Jefferson City Diocese in 1982. He serves in the prison ministry, and also ministers to the Spanish-speaking population of the Diocese of Jefferson City, according to the National Catholic Register.

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