The “angel priest” who appeared at the scene of a Missouri car crash, anointed and prayed with the teenage victim, then vanished has been identified as Rev. Patrick Dowling of the Jefferson City Diocese.
A press release provided to FoxNews.com by the diocese said Father Dowling had been travelling Highway 19 between Mass assignments in northern and central Missouri when he arrived near the crash scene Aug. 4.
The arrival of the unidentified priest, who seemed to come out of nowhere, then attend to the victim before disappearing just as mysteriously, touched off nationwide speculation about the identity of the “angel” cleric.
Dowling actually identified himself in a comment posting on a story about his actions on the National Catholic Register website Friday night. The posting, one among many, appeared to go unnoticed for several days.
“I had Mass in Ewing MO as the regular priest was sick,” he wrote. “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 were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently.
“I left when the helicopter was about to take off, and before I got to my car…”
The Archdiocese said 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.
Family and friends of the victim, 19-year-old Katie Lentz of Quincy, Mo., had said they hoped to find the priest and thank him.
Rescuers told Fox4KC said a 26-year-old driver crossed the center lane and hit Lentz' car head-on. Authorities spent about 45 minutes trying to cut her out of the car, but the metal on her older car dulled the equipment.
She asked the rescuers to pray with her and at that point the priest appeared.
Adding to the mystery, Fire Chief Raymond Reed said the department took 80 photos of the scene and the priest did not appear in any of them.