A STRIKING image of a lone Catholic priest walking along a stretch of traffic-strewn highway in the US, on his way to deliver the last rites to a stricken motorist, has been captured on camera.
Irish American priest Father John Killackey was pictured with his back to the camera striding through heavy rain, dressed in the distinctive black of his cassock, to deliver the three sacraments.
A powerfully sombre picture, Father Killackey stands tall, marching on with his mission from God, knowing that time is of the essence for whoever lies dying up ahead.
The image was taken on Interstate 81 South in East Hanover Township in Lebanon, Pennsylvania on July 8, 2020.
That stretch of road bore witness to a tragedy that day, with at least one life lost in a six-vehicle crash that brought traffic to a standstill.
In the chaos that followed, Father Killackey came to the assistance of those involved, walking between cars to offer help to anyone who was suffering in the wake of the crash.
Most significantly of all, he was able to administer the last rites to at least one person before they faded from this life for good.
When the picture first appeared online of this most humble of men doing God’s work, mystery surrounded his identity.
It was only in the days that followed that people began to learn of Father Killackey, a man who had not sought out the camera or the limelight during this time of desperate need for those involved.
A native of Wayne, New Jersey, according to the National Catholic Register, Father Killackey had only just celebrated his first-year anniversary of entering the priesthood.
A member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, his actions were only caught on camera by a bystander who was drawn to his powerful presence on that rain-soaked day of human tragedy.
Like many that day, Father Killackey was just trying to make his way home.
But when the moment came for him to step forward and do his part, he did, using the holy oil he kept in his car for times he engaged with the sick and dying.
“I was just trying to do my part right and get out of the way so that the EMTs, police and firefighters who had responded so quickly could do their good work,” he told the National Catholic Register.
“A priest is ordained to bring Christ to people in those solemn moments. I’m sure any priest in my situation would have done the same thing.”
A Killackey by name, Father John's ancestors likely originated out of Limerick before moving to America and the Land of Opportunity.