The Diocese of Jefferson City has identified the priest as Father Patrick Dowling.
In a statement released today, the diocese said:
“The Diocese of Jefferson City has identified the priest who assisted at the site of the Sunday morning, August 4, 2013 auto accident near Center, Mo. He is Rev. Patrick Dowling, a priest of the Jefferson City Diocese. Fr. Dowling was travelling Hwy 19 between Mass assignments that morning in northern and central Missouri.
Fr. Dowling said that he is pleased that he was able to help by performing his ministry and noted that that he was just one of many who responded to assist the victim at the accident. He and the Diocese wish to acknowledge and thank the first responders, medical team and law enforcement personnel for their efforts that morning in aid of the young woman injured in the accident.
Fr. Dowling, a native of Kilkenny, Ireland, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., in 1982. He has served at parishes in Moberly, Monroe City, Indian Creek, Milan, Unionville and Eldon, Mo., and in the diocese’s mission parishes in Marcona and Nasca, Peru.
He is currently serving in prison ministry and in parish ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics.”
This good priest, undoubtedly embarrassed by all the attention, has sought to emphasize the work of the first responders and emergency personnel on the scene and to downplay his own role. That’s an understandable reaction. Other commentators are emphasizing that the priest brought “calm” and “comfort” to the situation. Perfectly true, I’m sure. But I hope we don’t lose sight of the primary significance here: prayers were answered, and God acted. A priest of Jesus Christ was called forth to administer a sacrament of the Church, obtaining graces untold; and to offer a holy rosary, obtaining the intervention of the Mother of God. Kudos to this priest and to the first responders, and let them not be shy about their privileged role as agents of divine providence. Deus est regit qui omnia, and to Him be the glory!
UPDATE: “Almighty God intervened”. Interview with Fr. Dowling.