Miracles and the power of prayer

Aug. 10, 2013 @ 04:36 PM

On Friday, a co-worker told me about a television news story she had seen that morning. 

Pat Deese related that in a small Missouri town, a young lady had been in an auto accident. Equipment used to extricate her hadn’t worked. A priest appeared and said a prayer. Within minutes, another rescue vehicle arrived. The teenager was freed.   

I was skeptical. However, being both Catholic and from Missouri, my curiosity was piqued. I went online and found several stories published by mainstream media.

According to area news outlet KHQA, the story began around 9 a.m. last Sunday when the car Katie Lentz was driving was struck by another vehicle on a highway near Center, Mo. The other driver, later charged with DWI, crossed the centerline. The accident turned Lentz’s Mercedes into a mangled ball of steel.

USA Today reported that Lentz was en route from her home in Quincy, Ill., to Jefferson City, Mo. A 19-year old sophomore at Tulane University, Lentz planned to attend church in Jefferson City with friends.

For about 45 minutes, emergency crews worked unsuccessfully to extricate Lentz from her damaged car. The heavy materials used in the older Mercedes were too much for their dulled equipment.

Lentz’s vital signs were quickly failing. She asked the workers to pray aloud with her.

That is when a gray-haired priest dressed in black with a clerical collar and carrying anointing oil appeared, reported the Huffington Post. No one from the three surrounding communities, where there is one Catholic church, recognized him.

The priest anointed Lentz and prayed with her and some of the workers.

Moments after that, calmed workers sat the car upright. Lentz’s vital signs improved. A rescue team from a neighboring community suddenly arrived with their equipment. Lentz was freed from the horrible wreck and flown to a nearby hospital on a waiting helicopter.

With Lentz removed from the vehicle, rescuers turned to thank the priest. He had curiously disappeared.

Raymond Reed, the New London, Mo., fire chief who led the rescue effort, spoke to USA Today about the mysterious priest. Reed said, “I have 69 photographs that were taken from minutes after the accident happened — bystanders, the extrication, our final cleanup — and he’s not in them.”

On Facebook, Lentz’s mother reported that her daughter sustained extensive injuries: a lacerated liver, ruptured spleen, bruised lung, two broken femurs, a broken tibia and fibula, broken left wrist and nine broken ribs.

Lentz is in serious condition, but is doing well.

The fact that the priest would have had to walk to the accident scene on a road that was blocked in order to bar bystanders, that no one knows the priest, that he is not in any of the photos and that he seems to have vanished, certainly makes one wonder. 

Perhaps there is a logical explanation. Maybe the priest happened onto the accident and wanted to help. Maybe he wished to remain anonymous.

Regardless, I attribute the outcome to strong faith and the power of prayer.