A priest friend of mine once said in a homily, “For all you young men in the congregation—if there’s not a part of you that wants to be a priest, at least a little bit, then you probably don’t understand what it means to be a priest.” Among the many reasons I think that’s true—and I say this as a married layman—are stories like this one, from CBS affiliate KHQA in northeast Missouri. A 19 year-old, Katie Lentz, was in a head-on collision with a drunk driver and was pinned in her car. Rescue workers couldn’t pry her free.
After 45 minutes had passed, medical workers told rescue crews that Katie was failing and fast. That’s when Reed made an executive decision to move the car, which was standing on its side, back on all four wheels.
About an hour into the rescue, Katie asked rescue workers to pray out loud with her. That’s when a priest appeared out of no where.
“He came up and approached the patient, and offered a prayer,” Reed said. “It was a Catholic priest who had anointing oil with him. 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.”
The Hannibal Fire Department showed up right after that prayer with fresh equipment and was able to finish the extrication. After getting Katie safely into the Air Evac helicopter, at least a dozen of the rescue workers turned around to thank the priest who was no where in sight. The highway had been blocked for a quarter of a mile during the hour and a half rescue, leaving no bystanders and no parked cars nearby. Lentz’ family and friends are amazed by the story.
A miracle? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe Fr. Whatshisname just walked off into the corn, Field of Dreams style. But the fact that people who were there—including first responders who are around traumatic events all the time—are willing to believe it was a miraculous intervention tells you something. And I think the fact that the mystery hero was clearly identified as a Catholic priest is hardly a coincidence. Watch the video. What do you think?