Lifestyle & Human Interest

Capsized Kayaker Prays for Help Moments Before Tiki Bar of Priests Appears


It sounds like the start of a bad joke: What do you get when you have a bunch of priests on a floating tiki bar?

But that was a real-life situation last week, and the answer is “a bit of a miracle.”

Greg Barrett captains a tiki tour boat on Lake George in New York. His crew on that particular day consisted of Paulist priests and seminarians.

As they sailed around the lake, at some point Barrett noticed a man clinging to an overturned kayak, looking to be in distress.

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That man was Jimmy MacDonald of Albany. He and his family had come to the lake to enjoy a day out on the water, but as he snapped photos with his new $1,400 phone, he drifted away from the others and soon found himself alone.

The water that day was a little rough, and MacDonald soon found himself turned out of his kayak and working to stay afloat.

He was wearing a life jacket, but it wasn’t secured properly and kept going over his head.

Part of the problem was that he had his new phone in one hand, which left him only one free hand to try to right the kayak and get back in.

Needless to say, he couldn’t do it. Initially, he was too proud to shout for help, but soon he realized how serious his situation was.

“Asking for help sooner would have been a good idea, instead of waiting till it nearly cost me my life,” MacDonald told WNYT-TV in Albany.

“That’s when I said, ‘Alright, I think I might die today. I think this might be it.’ I prayed to my lord and savior Jesus Christ for help.”

The tiki boat captain then spotted him and headed his way.

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“Then I look out of the corner of my eye and I see Greg and the tiki bar and they said, ‘Do you need help?’ and I said, ‘Yes, please, please,'” MacDonald recalled. “At that point I was begging for help.”

MacDonald has been seven years sober, so clearly his relationship with alcohol is complicated — but now, it’s even more complicated.

“How funny is it that I’ve been sober for seven years and I get saved by a tiki bar?” he said, not missing the irony.

Barrett called the whole thing “divine intervention,” and one of the priests agreed, adding, “For us, that day, that was our mission — to be present to and to help someone in need.”

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