Despite frantic efforts to identify him, a Kilkenny born priest who anointed a crash victim refused to come forward and take the plaudits.
In a life and death situation, he came to the rescue of the 19-year-old female. Fr Pat Dowling from Parliament Street in the city shunned the US national media for a week after they launched a search for him.
He told colleagues he was only doing his job. The drama started as Fr Pat was driving home on the highway in Missouri from saying Mass, filling in for a sick colleague. He came by the accident and after waiting an hour to attend the motorist, he went to the car and blessed Katie Lentz before she was taken by air ambulance to hospital. Although hundreds of photos were taken at the scene, none had Fr Pat in them provoking claims by US news anchormen that he was a ghost or angel priest. Fox News was so taken by the story, they got an artist’s impression of Fr Pat in a bid to identify him.
“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 was waiting, and prayed the rosary silently. I left when the helicopter was about to take off,” he told the Catholic News Agency.
Katie’s family want to thank Fr Pat while Mayor of Kilkenny, Cllr Martin Brett is organising a civic reception for the late vocation when he comes back to visit his elderly mother. Fr Pat serves in the prison service and also ministers to the Spanish-speaking population of the diocese.