Alumnus Fr. John Killackey, FSSP, provided a powerful witness to the priesthood and to the Catholic Faith this past week, administering the last rites to a truck driver and helping out other injured drivers at an accident scene in Pennsylvania. An image of Fr. Killackey went viral on the internet afterwards, with thousands of Catholics across the nation being inspired by his acts of selflessness and heroism.
Fr. Killackey, who just celebrated the first anniversary of his priesthood, is an assistant priest at the Mater Dei Community in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Last Wednesday, July 8, he, along with a line of drivers, was stuck in traffic after six vehicles were involved in a crash on Interstate 81 South in East Hanover Township in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Fr. Killackey immediately went to work as rain poured down, walking from car to car, semitruck to semitruck, to offer aid. In one semitruck, he found the driver seriously injured and administered the Last Rites to the driver. The driver passed away later — the only fatality of the accident.
The driver’s uncle, Peter Reid, later expressed his gratitude to Fr. Killackey on Twitter.
“This breaks my heart but gives me peace knowing that this priest gave my nephew peace in his time of need,” wrote Reid. “God bless you and keep you!”
An image of Fr. Killackey in the rain was shared online soon after the accident, with the image eventually being shared thousands of times and being viewed thousands more. The National Catholic Register released a story on the accident as well, spreading the message and image even farther — and inspiring many as a result.
“We are so blessed to have him in our church community,” said Veronica Cecot, a parishioner of Fr. Killackey’s church in an interview with the Register. “What more of a blessing it was for the people in last night’s accident for him to offer prayers for them, especially for the one who died. Pray for Father, as I’m sure he’s got to be shaken by what he’s witnessed. And pray for all priests.”
Fr. Killackey is a graduate of the Class of 2011 and is one of three siblings to graduate from Christendom. Following graduation, Fr. Killackey joined six other alumni as priests in the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) in 2019.