A drowning man prayed for help. God sent a floating tiki bar filled with priests.

CNA Staff, Sep 8, 2020 / 06:07 pm (CNA).- When Jimmy Macdonald found himself floundering in the waters of Lake George in New York next to his tipped kayak, he thought he might die.

He had been enjoying a relaxing August day on the lake with his family, meditating and snapping pictures. He kept his lifejacket in the boat – he didn’t think he would need it, he told Glens Falls Living.

But his kayak ended up drifting, and suddenly he found himself far from shore and from his wife and stepchildren. Despite the rough waters, he still thought he could make it back to shore, and so he waved on several boats that had stopped to offer help.

But when his kayak tipped and his hastily-donned lifejacket came up to his ears, Macdonald knew he was in real trouble.

“I thought I was going to die. I was absolutely powerless and wished I had asked for help earlier. I was waving my hand and asked God to please help me,” he said.

God answered his prayers – but not in the form of Jesus walking on water.

“And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the tiki boat.”

Aboard the floating bar boat were seminarians and priests of the Paulist Fathers from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, D.C. The Catholic religious community had been on retreat nearby and were taking a break on a boat rented from Tiki Tours.

A handful of the seminarians and priests helped the Tiki Tours staff hoist Macdonald to safety.

Noah Ismael, one of the seminarians aboard the boat, told NBC Washington that it was “a movement of the Holy Spirit” that they happened upon Macdonald at the right time.

Chris Malano, another seminarian, told WNYT that as Paulist seminarians, they are missionaries, and “that day, that was our mission, to be present and to help someone in need.”

Macdonald told WNYT that he took the rescue as a “sign from God” that his life still has a purpose on earth.

He also added that he found the rescue funny, in an ironic sense. Macdonald is an addict in recovery who counsels others through addiction recovery.

“How funny is it that I’ve been sober for seven years and I get saved by a tiki bar?” he said.


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  1. These feel-good stories only make me skeptical that Catholics and Catholic journalists are serious about life and spirituality. What about all those people who pray to God for help but get none? I just roll my eyes at stuff like this. Like what about young married couples whose two year-old is dying of leukemia and God does nothing to help? What about the recent hurricane in the Gulf that caused so much destruction? What about the very serious collapse of the Catholic Church in America? With all the serious problems the Church and Catholics face right now, this story makes Catholicism seem ridiculous.

    • Karen,
      God did answer prayer in the recent hurricane. Even though the power grid & public water supplies are seriously messed up, there was far, far less destruction & direct loss of life from the storm than expected. Had it wobbled even 10 miles to the west it would have been a different story for Lake Charles.
      Sadly, the majority of fatalities have resulted from folks not using home generators properly. So we need to be praying for the lights to get back on.

      To quote scripture, “A merry heart doeth good like medicine.” It’s ok to have a sense of humor, especially in these times.

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