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Friday, August 09, 2013

Who was that priest? Miracle and mystery on a Missouri highway

He was there.

Everybody at the scene, from firefighters to police paramedics to the victim herself, saw him and heard him.

His calming words and peaceful demeanor are being credited with saving the life of a 19-year old young woman.

But he is nowhere to be found in any of the nearly 70 photographs taken at the site of the accident.

Neither can anyone figure out how he could have been there to begin with, since the road was blocked for two miles by police on both sides of the wreck.  There were no parked cars.  There were no pedestrians seen approaching the site, either walking along the road or coming across the fields along Highway 19 near Center, Missouri.

He disappeared before anyone could thank him.

And yet he was there.  His presence is being called a miracle.  And many are wondering if the person - who seemed to be a black-garbed silver-haired Catholic priest in his fifties or sixties - might have been an angel.

Katie Lentz: Attended by an angel?
Katie Lentz (right), a student at Tulane University, was on her way to church this past Sunday morning when her car was hit head-on by a drunk driver.  Lentz's Mercedes was a mangled heap and by the time help arrived, the situation was bleak for a happy ending.

Firefighters and paramedics struggled to free Lentz from the twisted metal.  Despite her circumstance, Lentz spoke with her rescuers about her church and her plans to study dentistry.  But after an hour and a half of desperately trying to get Lentz out, it was clear that her vital signs were rapidly fading and that there was very little that could be done.  It did not appear that she would survive.

That is when Katie Lentz asked the emergency workers around her for a moment of prayer.  And that's when he appeared.  Out of nowhere.  Literally.

The priest approached Lentz and anointed her with oil he was carrying.  He prayed with her and with the emergency workers and apparently anointed at least two of them as well. Chief Raymond Reed of the New London, Missouri Fire Department later said that "a sense of calmness came over her, and it did us as well.  I can't be for certain how it was said, but myself and another firefighter, we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work and that we would get her out of that vehicle."

Lentz was soon afterward finally extracted and evacuated by helicopter to a hospital.  She has suffered several broken ribs, a broken wrist, and both legs have multiple fractures.  But she is alive and poised to make a strong recovery.

And the priest?  He vanished.  No one saw him leave, just as no one saw how he could have possibly arrived.

Of all the photographs taken at the site of the crash, the priest is found in none of them.  Neither have inquiries with the Catholic churches in the area turned up anything about who he could have been.  Lentz's family and the rescuers at the scene would like to find him and thank him for his prayer and encouragement.  But whoever he is, he has not stepped forward.

It is an absolutely fascinating and beautiful story and there is plenty more at the Mail Online's article about it.

So... could it be that an angel came to the aid of Katie Lentz and those attempting to free her from the wreck?  Hebrews 13:2 tells us that we have sometimes "entertained angels unawares".

Perhaps it was a messenger of God who brought divine assistance to Highway 19.

Personally, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.  I've seen more than a few things along the way that I can't possibly explain.  Things which defy all notion of a rational basis.  And I've had to learn - some would add "the hard way" and not without merit - to stop looking for a rationale behind any of them.  "There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy," the Bard observed.

There are some things which one has to stand back and accept them for what they are, without any expectation of answers or understanding.  This mysterious priest, I would remark, is one of those.

And no matter one's faith or even lack of one, it has to be said: our lives are all the more rich because of them.