One side of me was ecstatic that I'm now going to be able to physically meet this individual. The other side of me — a lot of people touched by this story were grasping on to the thought that this mysterious priest was placed there by God in a form that they had their interpretation of. He was my angel either way, and I'm gonna still stick to that. —Raymond Reed, New London volunteer fire chief
Rev. Patrick Dowling revealed himself as the mysterious "angel priest" who prayed with 19-year-old Katie Lentz, after reading a National Catholic Register article about the Missouri accident that occurred last week.
CNN reported the original comment that Dowling made, which has since been deleted.
"I absolved and anointed Katie, and, at her request, prayed that her leg would not hurt," Dowling had commented. "Then I stepped aside to where some rescue personnel and the pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently."
Dowling appeared mysterious to emergency crews and community members as he had supposedly appeared out of nowhere, offered a prayer and quickly left the scene. Dowling does not appear in any of the 69 photographs that were taken at the accident scene.
But in an interview with KHQA-TV, Dowling said he most definitely was at the scene and is unsure why he wasn't in any photographs.
"I didn't hide. I just stood there waiting, praying," Dowling said.
The Diocese of Jefferson City identified the priest and said that he came forward after he heard the family was hoping to get in contact with the "angel priest."
Dowling was returning from filling in for a priest that was sick that morning. He was close to the scene and past where traffic was being blocked by police personnel. In his statement, Dowling said he asked a Sheriff's officer for permission to approach the accident.
After praying with Lentz, Dowling removed himself from the scene.
"I stepped aside to where some rescue personnel and the pilot were waiting and prayed the rosary silently," Dowling said in a statement. "I was amazed at the calmness of the two Highway Patrol men. ... I gave my name to one of the authorities, perhaps to the sergeant of (the) Highway Patrol, explaining that I was returning having celebrated Mass at Ewing."
Dowling deflected any praise, saying the miracle was due to a higher power and the emergency workers at the scene.
"I think there have been angels there too, and, in this context, I congratulate the fire team from New London and Hannibal, the Sheriff/deputies of Ralls County, the Highway Patrol personnel, the helicopter team, the nurses and all who worked so professionally," Dowling said in his statement. "God has blessed your work. I hope the credit goes where it is due."
Although the story of an "angel priest" inspired many, Raymond Reed, the volunteer fire chief, said the effect Dowling had will forever classify him as a messenger of God.
"My initial reaction was two-fold," Reed told KHQA. "One side of me was ecstatic that I'm now going to be able to physically meet this individual. ... The other side of me was kind of sad because I know there was a lot of people that were touched by this story that were grasping onto the thought that this mysterious priest was placed there by God in a form that they had their interpretation of. He was my angel either way, and I'm gonna still stick to that."
Lentz remains hospitalized, according to KHQA-TV, and charges are pending against the driver of the other vehicle.