Tiki Tour priests help rescue man on Lake George

LAKE GEORGE – The Paulist Fathers are used to saving souls. But an incident in August saved their lives.

First-year theologian Noah Ismael said he and a group of six others from St. Mary’s on the Lake, a summer retreat for fathers, were on the Tiki Tour boat when they noticed a man in the water that seemed to need help. .

“It seemed like something was wrong,” Ismael said. “He was holding a kayak and it looked like he had taken in the water somehow. He cried “help”. It was interesting because there were other people around and none of them seemed to stop. So the captain of the tiki boat stuck his nose out at him. Myself and the dock worker (Debbie Oliveira) pulled him out of the water.

Aside from a scratch on his head, the man, Jimmy MacDonald of Albany, appeared to be doing fine.

“One of the priests said a little prayer over him,” Ishmael said. “We didn’t need to call an ambulance.

Apparently MacDonald didn’t put the drain plug in his kayak, according to Frank Desiderio of the Congregation of St. Paul. As the one-man ship took on water and began to sink, MacDonald also lost his paddle. The captain of the Tiki Tour boat, Greg Barrett, also noticed that MacDonald’s life jacket was tangled and was rising above his head.


“When we saw his eyes, the size of silver dollars, we knew he was in trouble,” Barrett said.

Struggling, MacDonald worked to save his iPhone, holding it above his head.

“He said to us, ‘I should have dropped the phone and taken a swim. I was more worried about the phone than my life, ”Ismael said.

Ismael said it wasn’t the only funny thing MacDonald told them. He said MacDonald was a recovering addict who had been sober for 7 years and is now a drug and alcohol counselor. He found it ironic to be saved by a bar boat. He also said that he was praying to be saved and that he cannot believe that his prayer was answered by a boat full of priests.

“He had a good sense of humor,” Barrett said. “He said ‘May I have a prayer?’ We added a few amends and it was all smiles after that. “

McDonald could not be reached for comment.

The incident, previously reported by Glens Falls Living and WNYT, may not have ended as well without the coronavirus pandemic. Typically, Desiderio said, the Paulistas only spend a week or two at the Lake George refuge. But this year, the seminarians are there for 10 weeks to keep them safe and out of the cities where they would normally do their internship.

Knowing this, Barrett offered the priests a free ride, filling an empty time slot on the afternoon of August 11.

“My mother was a dedicated Catholic,” said Barrett, a former US Coast Guard lifeguard. “I knew my mother would be proud if I did away with the Paulistas.”

Desiderio, who did not make the trip because he was in a meeting, said “one good deed leads to another”.

Ismael agreed, adding, “You never know what the Holy Spirit brings to you. “

“It reminds people at that time,” Ismael said. “We were blessed that the Holy Spirit put us there at the right time and in the right place.”

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