Car crash

Miracles happen every day. Angels exist. If you’re on the fence about either statement, look no further than New London, Missouri, where a mysterious priest has fire fighters and rescue workers scratching their heads:

Emergency workers and community members in eastern Missouri are not sure what to make of a mystery priest who showed up at a critical accident scene Sunday morning and whose prayer seemed to change life-threatening events for the positive.

Even odder, the black-garbed priest does not appear in any of the nearly 70 photos of the scene of the accident in which a 19-year-old girl almost died. No one knows the priest and he vanished without a word, said Raymond Reed, fire chief of New London, Mo. …

The scene unfolded Sunday morning. Katie Lentz, a sophomore at Tulane University, was driving from her parents’ home in Quincy, Ill., to Jefferson City, Mo., where she has a summer internship and planned to attend church with friends. The Mercedes she was driving collided with another vehicle on a highway near Center, Mo. The accident crushed Lentz’s vehicle into a ball of sheet metal that lay on the driver’s side, Reed said.

Reed’s team and emergency workers from several other jurisdictions tried for at least 45 minutes to remove the twisted metal from around Lentz. Various pieces of equipment broke and the team was running out of choices. A helicopter waited to carry Lentz to the nearest trauma center. Though Lentz appeared calm, talking about her church and her studies toward a dentistry degree, her vital signs were beginning to fail, Reed said.

“I was pulled off to the side by one of the members of the” helicopter evacuation team, Reed said. “He expressed to me that we were out of time. Her condition looked grim for her coming out of that vehicle alive. She was facing major problems.”

At that point, Reed’s team agreed to take the life-threatening chance of sitting the vehicle upright so that Lentz could be removed from it. This is dangerous because a sudden change in pressure to the body can be critical, he said.

That’s when Lentz asked if someone would pray with her and a voice said, “I will.”

The silver-haired priest in his 50s or 60s in black pants, black shirt and black collar with visible white insert stepped forward from nowhere. It struck Reed as odd because the street was blocked off 2 miles from the scene and no one from the nearby communities recognized him.

“We’re all local people from four different towns,” Reed said. “We’ve only got one Catholic church out of three towns and it wasn’t their priest.”

Fireman missouri angel priest

Mr. Reed continued in an on-air interview with the local news station:

“He came up an approached the patient and did offer a prayer. It was a Catholic priest. He had anointing oil with him. A sense of calmness came over her then, even more so than what she had been already — and it did us as well. I can’t be for certain who said or how it was said or where it came from but myself and one of the other firefighters who was beside mewe very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work, and that we would get her out of that vehicle.

As a first responder, you don’t know what you’re going to run into. Everything is on a case by case basis. Everything that we come across. We have a lot of tools that allow us to do many things and we have extensive training. In this particular case it is my feeling that it was nothing more than sheer faith and nothing short of a miracle,” (Raymond Reed, fire chief, New London, Mo.).

Who was this mystery priest? Was he an angel in human form? Was it just a priest who happened to be wandering the corn fields of Missouri at the perfect time in the perfect place to come to the aid of a devote Catholic who asked for someone to pray out loud for her — just as her vital signs were failing? Did the fire chief of New London, Mo. and the local townspeople all decide in the moments after a gruesome car crash to put together an elaborate hoax? Interesting questions, indeed.

The fact of the matter is this: Whether Katie Lentz was saved by an angel or comforted by the wandering priest of the Missouri cornfields, a miracle happened. And in the end, this story reminds us that we are all spiritual beings. We all have a higher self. When we realize that, we too can act as earth’s angels. Are the emergency workers any less of an angel than the priest? In many ways, no. As humans, we are confined by our physical bodies but we are certainly not our physical bodies and we are not our thoughts. We are the animating force behind our thoughts. Once an individual realizes their true nature then nothing is impossible.

Matthew 21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

The story of the mystery priest reminds me of the two Christian girls who pulled a 3,000 pound tractor of their father’s chest when they prayed for God to give them strength. When you believe in something with all your soul the physical world has no choice but to react. There are countless instances of this being the case, but to the non-believer such stories simply serve as more material for a round of jokes. And that is fine.

Teal Scott explains the predicament of the non-believer with stunning accuracy:

Even though every single person alive today has [the attention and devotion of angels], regardless of what you’re doing, you must ask for their active help in your life because of the law of free will. When you came into this physical dimension you chose to become two points of perspective. You are the perspective of your higher self; you are also the perspective of your individual physical existence. And as such, you have the free will of focus. You get to pay attention to whatever it is you want to pay attention to, and thus your subjective reality will become the exact match, the physical match, of that focus. And so, if you choose not to focus on the presence of angels they can not show up in your objective reality. And we can flip this and say: Unless you choose to consciously focus on and invite these angelic presences into your life they can’t be a part of your reality. If you choose to focus on angelic presences and invite them into your life, they must become a part of your subjective reality. They can not impose themselves on your reality.

We create our own reality. The difference between Katie Lentz and the person who makes jokes about the priest who appeared before her when she needed him is this: Katie invited God into her life with open arms. Ms. Lentz is smart enough to know that there’s a whole heck of a lot out there that is beyond human comprehension. Thankfully, she’ll be around for a lot longer to share her experience with others once her wounds heal.

I believe Ms. Lentz may very well have been visited by an angel. However, if I am wrong I hope the priest stays silent. I like it better that way.

Matthew 6:1-6

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

No matter how you slice it, a miracle was performed in Missouri. For that, we can all be thankful.

Update: The mysterious ‘angel’ has come forward. His name is Father Patrick Dowling of the Diocese of Jefferson City:

“I thank God and the amazingly competent rescue workers,” Mr. Dowling said Monday. “I thank them for making me welcome in such a highly charged situation and allowing me to minister as a priest.”

The Aug. 4 wreck near Center, Mo., involving Tulane University sophomore Katie Lentz made news nationwide after reports of a man dressed like a priest who supposedly cured her and disappeared without a trace.

Miss Lentz was trapped in a clump of twisted metal that used to be her Mercedes as her vital signs continued to fall. Rescuers spent almost an hour trying to remove her from the wreckage when she asked someone to pray for her.

“I will,” the priest said.

Some people have already used this revelation to mock the idea that an angel came to Katie’s aid. Indeed, a priest just so happened to be in the perfect location at the perfect time to come to the aid of a devout Catholic who asked for someone to pray out loud for her — just as her vital signs were failing. I still maintain a miracle was performed.

Also note this from Father Dowling:

“I was probably part of the answer to their prayers, I came by and Anointed and absolved, (but) I didn’t say another word … I did not say anything like the machinery would begin to work or they would succeed in getting her out of the car.”

Take it for what you will.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

10 comments

  1. thanks for sharing this. it’s somewhat timely, as i have been thinking a whole lot about miracles and faith and doubt these days. about a month ago {around 16 weeks in to my pregnancy} my husband and i found out that out little baby girl is not going to make it due to a chromosomal disorder that she has. there is a chance that she will be born breathing with a heartbeat, but it will be likely that she dies within days of birth if she even makes it full term. if not, she will likely die in utero. my intent here is not to share such a sad scenario, rather to tell you what i’ve been learning about God and faith throughout these difficult weeks.

    before we knew there was a fatal chromosomal issue, we only knew something was seriously wrong because of a serious structural abnormality that was seen on the ultrasound at 13 weeks. between 13 and 16 weeks, there was some pretty intense and fervent prayers being lifted up to God my many, many friends and family and friends of family who we did not even know on behalf of us. my husband and myself were praying as well… like i’ve never prayed before. at that point, i prayed so much for a miracle… that God would heal my baby and knit her together in my womb {although i did not yet know she was a girl then}. her abdominal wall was not forming the right way at that point, and i prayed that God would place his hand on her and finish the work of forming that tiny little abdomen so that all her internal organs would be in the right place and no surgeries would be required after birth.

    we were told at 16 weeks that her condition might be due to a chromosomal defect and if so, then there was a chance it would be more than a case of performing surgery after birth for survival and “working” intestines/organs, but rather it could be a case of losing the baby all together. an amniocentesis would reveal which. in those three days between being told the possibility and finding out the result of the amnio., i then switched from praying that God would work a miracle to praying that he would see fit to do the most merciful thing for the baby and for us. as it would turn out, we were given test results that confirmed it was chromosomal {trisomy 18} and we would lose the baby.

    now, i write this not to seem like it’s not still devastating to hear and not to say that i’m not still deeply in the midst of the struggle. but i write to share what God taught me through a sort of counselor/mentor figure at my church who has been walking with me through this. she had just written a devotional about how God sometimes shows up as a big and mighty God that works wonders and does huge things in our lives like he did throughout the Bible. and that we can still have faith in a God that will deliver us from big things. but she pointed out in this study that God did not always show up that way… and still does not today. sometimes it is not in a miraculous form that he delivers us {delivering us from}, but rather in a “with us in trials and tribulations” form {delivering us through}. clearly, with a diagnosis like we received, we are needing to learn what it is to have faith that God will deliver us through, and not from this awful hardship. we struggle to find meaning and wonder if there is a reason for it all. but even when we can’t, i have found comfort in the fact that we can have faith, not just on the one level {in his miraculous works}, but also on another… in the knowledge that what he will not deliver us from, he will deliver us through. there are days i don’t know how i will get through it. but i think back to what my counselor told me a couple days ago, and i realize that with even a mustard seed of faith, God will deliver us through it and “bring us forth as gold”.

    anyway, sorry for the long comment. because of what has transpired over the past few months, i have not been reading your blog as much anymore. but the title of this post caught my eye, and i had to chime in. i think we need to be reminded that God is still at work, because often when we look around, it seems like he is nowhere to be found. i love to read unexplainable stories like this one. it restores my faith that he still performs miracles and still uses his angels, and we can still pray for the unthinkable and witness his presence today. i wanted to add that when it seems like God isn’t working or coming through for us like we thought he might or would, if we still have faith, he’s likely coming through in a different way… one that allows us to experience the trial and one in which he will teach us and refine us as he delivers us through it.

    1. Georgia,

      Thank you for sharing this story. Your insights are quite profound and I would like to respond to them. Due to my work schedule I will be tied up most of today, but I would like to give this the reply it deserves. As soon as possible I will come back to your comments, turn them over in my head for a bit and reply.

      Again, thank you for sharing it with my readers.

    2. Georgia,
      Firstly I want to applaud you for having such faith and insight in the face of a heart breaking situation. I work in the Ob/Gyn field and have come across many women in your situation who do not demonstrate your level of introspection. I couldn’t help but feel for you and your family and I would like to contribute a Christian physician’s view here.
      As I’m sure you know, the condition your baby has is the second most common chromosomal abnormality (next to Down’s syndrome). Together, the chromosomal abnormalities (trisomy 21, 18, and 13) make up a large percentage of birth defects. A lot of mothers ask a common question: Is it something I did? The answer is, of course, a resounding “No”. The Lord designed our bodies to have self-regulatory systems in instances like this. I think that’s one of the reasons the majority of miscarriages occur before the woman ever realizes she is pregnant and are due to these same chromosomal anomalies.
      Other times women have babies who live until delivery but not long afterwards. These babies were not meant to walk very long on earth, but perhaps they still had a purpose while they were transiently here. Your spiritual mentor at Church, your renewed faith and prayer, and your introspection – were they not all positive things that you did in response to receiving this devastating news? We are not privy to God’s plan for us. This may simply be an obstacle in your life which will allow you to appreciate your family that much more in the future.
      Having said all that, I want to encourage you (when you’re ready) not to be scared to try again. I’m sure your doctor has told you as well, but this disease occurs sporadically as the result of mis-divisions among cells. It’s not caused by food, exercise, or travel, etc…that the mother or father participated in.
      Again, thanks for sharing your story. I will be praying for the health of you and your family!

      Ani

    3. Your faith is a testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ. May your life be a blessed one with great joy. The follow up letter from Ani is so on target. Words from someone who can express herself well, and is knowledgeable as well. God’s blessings to both of you and your families Chris

    4. Georgia,

      I don’t believe in coincidences. I don’t believe it was a coincidence that you ran across this post on miracles during a tough time in your life, nor do I believe it a coincidence that your message sailed through space and time in ways that brought it to Aniwonder’s shoreline.

      I believe that all of us are spiritual beings. We can not be harmed because we were created by God. Our bodies and our minds may fail us (even in the womb), but our spirit lives on forever. On the other side of reality’s veil your child’s spirit is alive and well and in God’s hands. That spirit is aware of the hopes you had for it and is appreciative of the love you will carry for it the rest of your life.

      I believe that everyone we encounter during our time on earth and all the experiences we have provide us an opportunity for spiritual growth. Everything that happens to us happens for a reason. We might not realize these lessons for days or months or years, but they’re there. The key is to have faith in God and trust that He won’t allow anything to happen to us that we can’t handle.

      Death is an illusion because in the end we all return to God. We must use our time on earth in ways that bring us closer to God while we’re here, but when He calls us home there is nothing to fear. While it may be a mystery to our limited human minds why some children were never meant to be cradled by their mothers on this plane of reality, I can not think of a more comforting alternative than to have them cradled by God’s hands.

      I may not ever meet you in person, Georgia. Your path in life is different than mine, but in the end we are walking towards the same destination: Given an infinite number of paths, we all end up with God. That is ultimately all that matters. Your child is with Him now, and in time you will be reunited. In that, I hope you can rejoice.

      I second Aniwonder’s call for you to try again because I have no doubt that you will be a fine mother.

      Again, thank you for sharing your story with myself and the many others who will come across it moving forward.

      God bless you,

      Douglas

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