A Beacon of Light in a Dark Place: An Interview with Exorcist Rev. Michael Maginot
February 20, 2014
Last year, Catholic to the Max was granted an extended one-on-one two-and- half-hour interview with Rev. Michael Maginot from the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. Recently, Maginot has gained a lot of attention from the media for his work as the exorcist in a case of demonic possession that took hold of a family and made news across the world. Rev. Maginot has been a priest for ten years and served as Judicial Vicar back in 2001. A down-to-earth man with a simple heart, he seeks to bring glory to God through his experiences with this case. In a world where atheism is growing in numbers among youth, Fr. Maginot wishes to point the way to the Truth, the power of God, and the very real existence of the devil. In our interview, we were able to focus on the more unique perspective of Fr. Maginot’s work, not just as exorcist, but as a priest. He kindly submitted to and answered our questions concerning his faith life, prayer, and various other theological topics. We are indeed grateful for Rev. Maginot for taking the time to let us interview him. We hope you enjoy the interview.
First off, we would like to thank you Father Maginot for doing this interview with us.
No problem. You’re welcome.
Studying in Rome
What was your experience like studying at the famous Pontifical North American College in Rome?
It was great. I had a very good experience studying at the university. It was a good experience as well being close to the Holy Father. The cultural experience of being in Rome and Europe was great. I also enjoyed the traveling that I was able to do while I was there. Overall, it was quite the experience of a lifetime.
During your attendance at the college, did you receive training in the rite of Exorcisms in a specialized class? What was that like?
Not at that time, no. I received my education there from 1979 till 1984, so there was no class that specialized in that in Rome at the time. When I performed the Rite of exorcism in this case, I used the Rite from the Roman Ritual.
The Roman Rite is a literary work from the Catholic Church containing various rites and prayers including the rite of exorcism. The rite of exorcism spans roughly 20 pages in the 1964 edition of the Rite. The book has been around for over a hundred years.
Did you personally study any cases of possession while in Rome or in your lifetime?
No. I had never really studied that kind of thing in the course of my studies at Rome or during my life.
The Role of Being an Exorcist
Graham Twelftree, a notable biblical scholar, recently came out with a work entitled Jesus the Exorcist. What does the role of Jesus as exorcist mean to you?
For me, exorcism was a very integral part of the ministry of Jesus in the gospels, even, I would say, as much as healing the sick. This is where the Church finds its scriptural roots for the rite of exorcism that we priests use today. So, for myself, it is definitely an important part of the ministry work of the Church.
* While the Old Testament scarcely mentions demons, Jesus Christ in the New Testament focuses on spiritual warfare and demons in 14 distinct cases and talks about demons, evil, and satan 68 times in the four gospels.
How have you assumed the role of exorcist in your own parish?
At different points I’ve gotten phone calls from parishioners and others. In those situations, I often would work to correct whatever spiritual problem they were dealing with. Most of the time I would do this by putting them in the right mindset about whatever it was that was bothering them spiritually. Possession is not always the problem. Most of the time, I would utilize the different spiritual tools the Church offers for spiritual warfare rather than performing the rite. The tools were great because they often solved whatever spiritual problem they were targeted at. Whenever I get a call about some type of spiritual or demonic affliction, I always tend to try and look for and close in on the source of the problem. Usually, if you can figure out what instigated the spiritual attack or problem the person is having, you can fix it or correct the person’s mentality about it. Not everyone needs an exorcism.
The Rite of Exorcism has been revised multiple times. The two most recently noted are during Vatican II (with the 1964 edition of the Roman Ritual) and in 1999.
In the code of canon law 1172, it is stated that permission to perform an exorcism should be only given to a priest who has piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life. The Church also recommends prayer, fasting and preparation beforehand. What kind of spiritual preparation did you undergo before and between the exorcisms?
The most important thing to do before performing an exorcism is to attend the sacrament of confession. So, before the rite, I did go. However, I did not fast, with the exception of missing meals when the exorcisms were around dinner time.
In the Scriptures, Jesus exorcizes a demon that the apostles could not and tells them that the demon could only come out with prayer and fasting. Have you experienced the spiritual benefit of fasting in your spiritual life?
I’ll be honest that I haven’t been too big on fasting except for what the church requires. However, with all the phone calls I’ve been getting the past two weeks, it was hard fit in eating (laughs).
What events led to you becoming the exorcist for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana?
Really, it was matter of being the priest on the scene more than anything else. I got called in, I ended up doing the investigation. While I was the judicial vicar of the northwest Indiana diocese back in 2001, I received a few phone calls concerning spiritual warfare. The first two I managed to call, but never got an answer. With the third call things seemed to be more involved. In that particular case, I contacted the bishop and he told me to take of care of the case on my own. It was crazy because I was getting a sense that this sword the woman owned had to do with her troubles. I literally had to convince that her to get rid of the sword and she was quite reluctant about it since she didn’t think there was any curse or anything around the sword. Eventually, the woman went to an Orthodox church which granted her an exorcism, and I never heard from her again. It became clear to me at the point that the bishop didn’t really want me to get involved in that kind of thing. That was why it was hard to present the Ammons case to him when I did because I didn’t want to bring anything more to him. I basically got into the mentality of trying to handle these kind of things on my own as much as I could. So, initially I thought I would do the same thing with the Ammons. Everything I tried spiritually wasn’t working, so I felt forced in a sense to bring the case to the attention of the bishop and get permission to perform an exorcism.
When the police had finished their investigation of the Ammons basement, I had finished writing up an investigational report on the case. I had contacted the judicial vicar of Indianapolis, as that was who my bishop referred me to, and told him about the case. Since Latoya Ammons was living in Indianapolis, and the bishop was known for forwarding cases of that nature to him, I tried to put the case in his hands. I said to him, “Look, I have this report, and if you want, I could hand that all off to you. Then you could take it over and since Latoya lives in Indianapolis, I could give you her contact information.” But he replied saying, “No, I do all my own investigations, and if I got involved I’d start from scratch.” Then I told him, “But she’s been waiting a month and she wants it done yesterday. Every day she is without her kids and as long as this demon is with her, she’s not going to get them back.” Then he said to me, “Well, with the way it is, if you started it [the investigation], and she is willing to come 150 miles from Indianapolis to you for the exorcism, then you have to finish it.” So I called Latoya and she agreed to come to Gary, Indiana and have me perform the exorcism and that is how I “became an exorcist.”
In the Roman Catholic Church, a judicial vicar (or officialis) is an officer of the diocese who has ordinary power to judge cases in the diocesan ecclesiastical court.1
A view of the city of Gary, Indiana
At what point did you become involved with the case of the Ammons?
At the time Latoya’s boys were at the hospital, I was the on-call replacement for the chaplain who works regularly at the Methodist hospital in Gary and Merriville, Indiana. Fridays and Saturdays, I was that hospital’s emergency contact in place of the regular priest. When I got the call, I was at my parish conducting my regular bible study class. The Methodist minister for the hospital who was on the line told me they needed me to come over and perform an exorcism. I explained to him that I needed to get permission from the bishop before I could do anything like that. And before even doing that, an investigation would have to be undertaken. At that point, the minister mentioned the incident with the boy walking up the wall and said there was something in him. So, I gave him my contact information and told the minister that I would be willing to look into it for him and do an investigation.
Do you know why the Methodist minister didn’t perform the exorcism himself?
He basically told me that they did not usually deal with those types of things and that he knew us Catholics tended to do that kind of thing. He also had no experience with that himself. So that’s why he contacted me.
The Methodist Church of Great Britain holds that the ritual of exorcism involves “the casting out of an objective power of evil which has gained possession of a person.” Moreover, the Methodist Church teaches that “the authority to exorcise has been given to the Church as one of the ways in which Christ’s Ministry is continued in the world.” A minister must first consult the District Chair in order to perform an exorcism. The Methodist Church holds that it is of great importance to ensure that the presence and love of Christ is assured to the individual(s) seeking help. In addition, the ministry of the “Bible, prayer and sacraments” should be extended to these individuals as well. A combination of these things has been proven to be effective.2
What was the faith background of the Ammons family and did they seek help from their own church before you were contacted?
Well, first, the Ammons were Baptists. Before I became involved, they had gone to their church about the problems they were having with the demonic. Surprisingly, their Baptist church refused to help them at all. Now, their great grandmother, who was for the most part a shut-in, had a neighbor who belonged to a church that had spiritual deliverance services. It was at this point, when things got worse with the possession and demonic affliction, that they showed some willingness to go to that church for help. The great grandmother put them in contact with that church, and they attempted to help the family for couple weeks but they were unable to deliver the women and her family completely.
Some news sources mentioned your initial doubt over there being demonic forces at work with the Ammons family, can you tell us about that?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a doubt. I had more of what you would call a “professional skepticism” about the case. The rite of exorcism presupposes that. So you try to figure out what else could be causing the situation to occur besides possession. If you aren’t able to reach any logical conclusion or answer, then you can make the judgment that it’s possibly demonic. From the very beginning, when I heard the story of the Ammons, the first phenomenon that was reported to me through a phone call was that one of the boys was walking up a wall backwards at the hospital and some professional staff had seen this. So, I thought, “If what they’re telling me is true, there must be something demonic going on there.” At the time, I couldn’t really come up with an explanation to falsify what the people saw, outside of it being some phony type of thing.
The 1964 Roman Rite of Exorcism states:
…[A priest] should not believe too readily that a person is possessed by an evil spirit; but he ought to ascertain the signs by which a person possessed can be distinguished from one who is suffering from some illness, especially one of a psychological nature.3
It seems that people in this current age have forgotten the power of Christ, and rather have fallen prey to superstition and the power of the devil. Was it very clear from a psychological and medical standpoint that the Ammons family was not dealing with illness or irrational fear of any sort?
I think that any evidence of fear or illness was cleared away by the medical professionals and psychologists. The best they could really come up with was that it was a case of demonic obssession stemming from the mother who decided to involve her kids, causing them to act out that way. It was as if they were coming up with an illness to explain all of it that didn’t even exist. Even so, it didn’t really explain how this boy managed to walk up the wall backwards. Once the exorcisms were done, things were fine for the family. They were able to get back together, probationary periods were done, so things ended well.
What do you believe was the cause of the demonic possession?
It looked liked a perfect storm, to be honest. That following Sunday evening, after the incident at the hospital, I started my investigation, which started around 6pm and ended at 11pm. The first thing I did was bless the home of the Ammons. After that, I went about trying to find the source of the problem in the case for the next two hours, asking Latoya and the family questions as they discussed the phenomena they were experiencing. When we were talking, Latoya mentioned that a couple days before the interview, her ex-boyfriend had come to the house when she was not there. At that point, she said, the family didn’t want him to come in the house at all, so he stood on the porch. The grandmother said he had wanted to give money to the children, and so she called Latoya to ask if that was okay, and Latoya said it was fine. So the ex-boyfriend gave the two boys five dollars each, but oddly enough, he didn’t give anything to the girl. I asked the grandmother why he didn’t give money to girl. She simply said that the ex-boyfriend didn’t give money to her because he said she didn’t need incentive to be good like the boys did. That kind of raised a red flag in my mind during the interview.
So, after hearing the entire story of all the phenomenon the family was experiencing, I wanted to make a point to focus on the ex-boyfriend and get more details about him. It was dark outside at that point, probably 8:30 or so, and I started to focus more on the ex-boyfriend in my questions. I said to Latoya, “One thing that strikes me as strange is that former boyfriend.” And as soon as I said that, the bathroom light flickered with this electronic noise. I got up to take a closer look at it, and by the time I got to the doorway of the bathroom, it stopped. So, I returned to the room Latoya was in and sat down to continue the interview and made a note about it. Then I asked again, “So, tell me about the boyfriend…”, and immediately again the bathroom light flickered and buzzed. I got up again and went to the doorway of the bathroom again and the flickering and buzzing stopped a second time. As I walked away I joked and said, “I guess it’s scared of me”, and right then the light started to buzz and flicker again. Then, I went and got my crucifix and put it on top of the light, but it still continued to flicker and buzz. So, I wrote all of this down in my notes and felt I was heading in the right direction in terms of the source.
The next day, I interviewed her again about the boyfriend. This time, I noticed that the rods to the venetian blinds in the house were swinging back and forth about a quarter of an inch in the kitchen or so in synchronization. However, the cords that draw up the blinds vertically were perfectly still. Below the cords, there were also some tags, and these tags were still as well. So, there wasn’t really any current of air coming through the house. This became even more clear by the fact that when the furnace in the house turned on, the cords, tags, and rods all moved and flapped around like crazy from the air in the vents. Now, the window in the kitchen was the only one with a vent below it. So, it was very strange that this swinging movement occurred as well with the windows in the main floor of the house as I walked by them as there were no vents below them. They also swung in sequence, one window and then the next, as I walked by them. And that was very odd.
I also noticed, when I walked in Latoya’s bedroom, that oil was dripping vertically from the blinds. I inquired about it, and she said that the church with the deliverance ministry suggested she make crosses with vegetable oil all over the house. What was strange was that she had done this a month before, and in the rest of the house the oil had dried up, but not in her bedroom or the basement.
When I had finished making note of the oil dripping, I came back into the room with Latoya, and all of the sudden, we noticed there were wet footprints all around her. The footprints were literally so wet you would have had to step into a puddle of water to make a footprint like that. I remember I could smear the carpet with them when I touched them.
My first guess was that they were mine, since I had used their bathroom but since I checked the bathroom floor, it became very clear that the floor there was dry and the footsteps did not go to the bathroom. In fact, I realized, these footsteps didn’t really go anywhere at all.
So, I continued questioning Latoya about the boyfriend and as I was talking about him, she mentioned she was getting a headache, felt nausea, and had chills. So she went and got a blanket, but very shortly after wrapping herself in it, she threw it off. She said she felt like she was burning up. At this point, I pulled out my crucifix and put it on her forehead. Now mind you, there was no mention of Latoya being possessed at all, and originally the focus was on the problem with the boys. In fact, during the whole first two hours of the interview, Latoya mentioned almost nothing about herself. And when had placed the crucifix on her head, she started convulsing and the moment I took it off, she stopped . I said to Latoya, “You know, you have an aversion to holy things. You’re possessed. It’s not just your children, it’s you as well!”
Latoya was getting very sick at this point, and I felt I had enough information to continue the investigation, so I left that night around 10:30pm. I told Latoya that we did need to get to the bottom of the whole boyfriend thing and to give me a call when she felt better so we could discuss it further. That night the Ammons family left the house and spent the night at Latoya’s brother’s house with his family.
The next day, Rosa, the grandmother, called me and said, “Latoya’s very sick, but last night something very strange happened and I would like to tell you about it. Around the middle of the night, Latoya was awakened when she noticed her feet were uncovered by the blanket she was sleeping with. So she kicked them back over her feet again to cover them. I was sleeping in another bed in the same room at the time. What happened next was the blankets, without anyone touching them, moved up and flipped off of her feet so violently that it awakened Latoya.”
When Latoya felt better, I saw her and she mentioned that when she first met her ex-boyfriend, she had bought a pair of Air Jordan shoes, and they went missing. She asked her children about it and started getting upset, asking “who’s taking my things?” She also remembered that, around the same time, she wanted to enlarge a family photo, and when she went to look for it, she noticed that it was missing. As she was going through her stack of photos, she realized other pictures of her family were missing as well. So she asked her children again if they knew where they were or if they had taken them, but they all denied taking anything or knowing anything about it. Simultaneously, Latoya started catching her boyfriend in a bunch of lies and eventually, she received a threatening call from a woman who claimed to be the man’s wife. Latoya told the woman she could have the guy because she didn’t want anything to do with him. The wife threatened her saying “you will regret ever messing with my husband.” Despite Latoya breaking up with him, the ex-boyfriend continued to stalk her and show up at her house. Latoya decided it would be a good idea to move. So her brother found a good deal on a rental house (the one where the phenomenon occurred) and the Ammons family moved there. However, the ex-boyfriend was able to track her down and started showing up at that house as well. When the family moved to Indianapolis the phenomenon had stopped occuring, but I did get a call from Latoya, who despite not being bothered by her ex-boyfriend, was having horrific nightmares of being tormented, raped, and cursed at by him, and that these dreams kept on re-occurring for a while. Eventually, they stopped. So it was very clear from the beginning, to when they moved and everything stopped, that there was a tie-in between the boyfriend and the demonic possession.
In an interview with Fr. Gabriel Amorth, The Sunday Telegraph asked him how people get possessed. He answered, “I believe God sometimes singles out certain souls for a special test of spiritual endurance, but more often people, lay themselves open to possession by dabbling with black magic. Some are entrapped by a satanic cult. Others are the victims of a curse.” It is likely that there was some form of curse placed upon the Ammons.4
Can you explain why the police were digging in the basement of their house in Gary, IN where all the phenomenon occurred and what happened with all of that?
I remember going down into the basement to bless it before the interview and to sprinkle holy water in the various rooms down there. What I realized later was that the basement had a peculiar cut-out portion under the stairs full of dirt. The funny thing was there was no mention of it when I interviewed the family. I knew the police and social workers were going to gain access to the home for investigation on Wednesday, so I mentioned that to them. They took note of it as being possibly a crucial lead in the case.* When the police came, they dug up that portion to see if the Ammons family would have any reaction, that is, if the case was of their own doing because they were hiding something. But they didn’t seem to have any problem with that so they weren’t considered suspect in that. When the police dug under the basement stairs, they found some items oddly buried about two feet deep into the dirt.
When the police were digging in the basement, the crosses made of oil there started to drip noticeably again, along with the ones in the bedroom. The police were skeptical about all of this, so they sealed off the bedroom to make sure no one could get in an fabricate the phenomenon after they wiped everything down to rid of the oil. A half hour later, they broke the seal, and when they came in the room, the phenomenon manifested itself and the dripping started again.
*Police became involved at the hospital when there was concern that either the family was being attacked or that their was domestic abuse going on. The investigation at the house was merely to check on the living conditions.5
The Rite of Exorcism
You mentioned to me that you contacted a bishop in Chicago during the time that you were involved with this case. Why?
I was mainly calling him because I was looking for the ritual that I had to use to perform the exorcism. He told me he would check with the USCCB to see if they had any rituals.
Having been revised twice, once after Vatican II and a second time in 1999, can you tell us what the status is of the rite of Exorcism?
What’s interesting is when I talked to all three bishops, they basically said that the whole exorcism ritual is in a state of flux. All the exorcists are complaining to the Pope that the established English version of the rite of exorcism is not as effective as the Latin rite and they want the old one back. So, the Pope is re-working the rite and has given permission to use the old or new rite, in Latin or English, till he is finished revising it. So there is nothing printed out there for priests because of that because it’s in the works.**
**Currently there is nothing else to substantiate this claim
So what rite did you end up using?
Well I printed all the rites pretty much off of the internet and used them all. When I began, I decided to go with the new one in English from 1999 first.
You mentioned to me that the Eucharist played a role in you getting permission to perform the exorcism. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, actually it did, at least in my case. A couple of the rites recommended having the Eucharist with, hidden from the person whom I was exorcising because that can also be a telltale sign someone is possessed. On that occasion, when I was performing a minor exorcism, I decided to put the Eucharist on Latoya’s forehead like I did with the cross, and she yelled, “Ooo! That’s burning!! What’s that?!! It hurts so bad! What is that?” I told her, “It’s the Blessed Sacrament.” Now mind you, she was Baptist, and in this case she had no idea what it was. Afterward I took the host off of her and gave Holy Communion to one of the Catholics who was assisting me. When I reported this all to the bishop, this time, he gave me permission to perform an exorcism.
The Roman Ritual of 1964 adjures the priest to avoid holding the holy Eucharist over the head of the person as this can endanger the Host.6
What role do Saint Michael and the Virgin Mary play, if any, in the rite of exorcism? Did you invoke the help of either in this case?
There is a part of the rite that invokes the help of Saint Michael, and we have mention of both of them in the litany of saints there as well. There is also an option I believe to say the Magnificat at the end of the rite.
A Miracle and A Dark Night of the Soul
What role does the Virgin Mary play in your personal life?
It’s kind of an interesting story. In 1992, my brother unfortunately had an incident where he attempted to take his life. He had actually put a gun to his mouth and when he did this he said he heard the Blessed Virgin Mary say to him, “Don’t do that!” gently. So, he removed the gun from his mouth, and that moment in the corner of the room, he saw an image of her. In thanksgiving for Mary’s intervention, he made a grotto in his bedroom to that image of her, with candles and roses. Soon after, we actually had people coming to the house to pray to rosary in front of that grotto. My mother also had different prayer groups coming to pray the rosary there. I also came on thursdays to do a prayer group there as well. At that point in my life I really had an increased devotion and interest in the rosary and Mary.
I remember shortly after that, we had a full-size replica of the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe come to our parish and I had the opportunity to take it around to the six abortion clinics in the area, doing a “Jericho” walk around them with it. Also, I put blessed salt at the entrances of these clinics. We also had the banners set up in the different churches in the area and had people praying with it as well.
You mentioned to me as well that you went through “a dark night of the soul” so to speak with your faith life after this. Can you tell me about it and what started to lift it in your life?
Well, when the basement, where my brother’s bedroom was, became flooded, it was decided that I would take the grotto there and put it in an empty room in my rectory as a place for prayer. At that time my mother had Alzheimers, and the prayer groups she had going dissolved, so my group was the only one left. So, we continued to meet once a week on thursdays, and I really loved it. I recall praying the rosary then every day. In June of 2009, around midnight, I came into the rectory to realize that the grotto had caught fire. Now I had prayed around 4pm that day and was gone for the entire evening. When I came back, I had gotten ready for bed and was watching some television and fell asleep. Around midnight, I heard glass break and thought someone was breaking into the rectory. So I went over to the room with the grotto and saw it was on fire and got a fire extinguisher. The whole bottom of the grotto which was about four feet long was engulfed in flames. I tried to extinguish it with the fire extinguisher but the heat from the fire burned me when I sprayed it and I inhaled a great deal of black smoke. All this smoke and heat started pouring out of the room and I tried to find the front door to the rectory and I was panicking. I eventually found the back door and made my way over my neighbor who called the fire department and the ambulance. The ambulance took me and they treated me at the hospital for smoke inhalation. The fire pretty much destroyed everything without burning down the place. I remember literally wearing just sweats at that point. It looked like everything was lost pretty much. People told me I was lucky to survive this and that I could have been killed. Luckily, the rectory was redone rather quickly over the course of two months but that whole experience really put me into a “dark night of the soul.”
I remember we had a prayer group that prayed the 54 day novena, and it always seemed that our intentions or prayers were answered. But then we had this one 54 day novena that we prayed, in which nothing happened and it seemed that everything was not being answered or going well. So the group went into hiatus, that is, until recently.
I remember this “dark night” started being lifted around the time that the Indianapolis Star reporter called me. But before I called her back, I researched and looked into what rules, regulations, and precautions there were and what I was allowed to tell and not tell in terms of the exorcism. (Often, exorcisms tend to be a very private matter) But this case was very odd, and God seemed to have a plan to witness to his glory in it that involved me. I was surprised because most of the things that usually applied to the seal of confidentiality in exorcisms didn’t apply in the case I was working with. The main point of exorcisms being kept confidential is too keep the subjects of the case safe. But in this case, the persons involved came out to the public about it, so that seal was broken. I also didn’t have to worry about the kids and the exorcism since I only had to perform on Latoya to get rid of the demon since it was jumping from one person to another. I even called Latoya to gain permission from her to talk about these things and she was okay with it. The only two stipulations were that I couldn’t reveal the names of the demons and also the names of the children so as to protect them.
It really seemed like God wanted this story to go viral because He wanted the light to be shined on it. It was miraculous. It just amazed me how things kept falling into place with news, movie deals, and the such. I felt like it was what God wanted and that all of the sudden I was part of His big plan. It was funny because the devil ended up showing off and all of the sudden God didn’t allow it to be kept in secrecy in this case. The opposition that it faced and conquered in being brough to the light of truth, reminded me of how God worked in a sleepy little town in southern France with a girl named Bernadette. All of that, in and of itself, started to lift that dark night I was having before.
According to Leon Cristiani, author of Evidence of Satan in the Modern World, after Saint Bernadette’s apparitions there were many diabolical apparitions that were done by the evil one to create more confusion about the authenticity of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions to Bernadette.7
The Film Deal with the Producer of the Conjuring
In the Roman ritual of 1964, Chapter one of the section on exorcisms states that the priest “should fulfill this devout undertaking in all constancy and humility, being utterly immune to any striving for human aggrandizement, and relying, not on his own, but on the divine power.” Do you believe your involvement with the public media has been roadblock at all to maintaining humility in this case and not sensationalizing?
No, I do feel that the revealing of this case in the public light is part of God’s plan. I really feel like His hand is in this one in removing “bushel basket” off the truth of this case. It’s definitely part something bigger than me and if anything I am overwhelmed (laughs). I have a part in that, but it’s God’s doing and not mine. I don’t want to get in the way of that, so I’m willing to do whatever God’s wants to do. There were definitely things that could have stopped it from coming to the light. One thing is that I offered the bishop all my findings and reports to put in the archives of the diocese but he said, “No, you can keep that.” He also never asked me to do a report. Usually those kinds of reports get archived and becomes diocesan property which becomes ecclesiastical property and they can seal that all off as confidential. And I was willing to let that happen. As well if the demon speaks, that usually has to stay in confidentiality, because demons like to lie. But in my case, the demon never spoke.
Can you tell us about the movie deal? Did you have any concerns that the case would sensationalized?
Yes. I was definitely worried that Hollywood would take the story and do what they want with it and that I wouldn’t have any control over it. And then the guy who worked with the Warrens for the last thirty years, starting with the Amityville Horror story, worked with them again to get the most true and accurate story of what happened for the film The Conjuring. He told Hollywood that he wanted to tell the true story and he was running up against all sorts of roadblocks with it. Everyone kept telling him, “you have to do it our way or else no one is going to want to watch it” but he wanted to tell the truth with it. Just like The Conjuring, he wanted to tell the truth again, and said that whoever would take his script and make the film would have to do so on the condition of being 100% true to the script. In other words, whoever makes it has to tell the true story or else the deal with his script will not go through with them. So, the main focus is trying to bring the truth out about it and not necessarily sensationalize it.
Tony DeRosa-Grund is the Evergreen Media Holdings Executive Chairman. In an interview with Collider about his film The Conjuring he expressed that he chose James Wan to do the film because “has really the absolute correct sensibilities to handle this and be true to the story.” He also emphasized that “You have to be true to the story, you have to have integrity for your characters built into the script and if you don’t, then why bother doing it? Because then you’re not telling a true story. This is true as can be. Yeah, there’s small things for artistic license but the big picture and the big story, this is what happened.”8
What steps have you taken in your parish to remind people of the power of Christ?
The readings for these past weeks have really given me the opportunity to speak. On the weekend closest to the World Day of the Sick, instituted by Blessed John Paul II, we have the communal anointing of the sick during mass. I was able to say what has happened these past two weeks and use it as an example that God brings us healing in all sorts of ways that we may give glory to Him.
What saints have particularly influenced you in your vocational life as a priest?
I would say definitely saint michael, my patron saint, saint john the evangelist, and saint mark.
How has the Eucharist and Mass personally empowered you and affected you as a servant of Christ for your parish?
One of my four assistants was involved in a group called Children of the Rosary, which later became “Let the Children Come.” That assistant brought to my attention that they were trying to have mass on first saturdays. They would try to have mass on first saturdays,and people would show up but there was no one they were always having trouble getting priests. So I told them they could have a mass in the church I resided at. The attendance grew enough to the point where we could do a holy hour too. The intention of those first saturday masses was an effort made to battle abortion, since there was a planned parenthood building near the church where the mass was supposed to be said. So we had a holy hour with the rosary for life in addition to people praying outside the abortion clinic.
In my own experience, whenever the mass gets to the consecration of the host, I always have this experience at some point where it feels like some kind of force is working through me when I do it. It’s hard to describe, it’s almost like a burp. And that has always been a powerful reminder to me of the power of the Sacrament.
Children of the Rosary is a pro-life group in Gary, Indiana started by Rev. Theodore J. Mens, the Director of Pro-Life Activities since 1973 and pastor of St. Mary Church in Griffith since 1993.9
Can you briefly tell us about what led you to become a priest?
The idea first hit me, the founding pastor of my parish visited my grade school. In the seventh grade, he invited any boy interested in priesthood to camp Lawrence for a couple days. And since it meant time off of school, practically every boy went. I’d have to admit I was one of them! (laughs). What really surprised me was that this priest was a real outdoors type of guy and enjoyed fishing and stuff. That kind of took me back because I thought priesthood was all about people praying constantly all day and it was interesting that a priest could have fun. For me, it took a roadblock away in my journey to the priesthood. But yeah, I would say after that my interest in the priesthood continued to grow more and more as I attended retreats and prayed the rosary.
Photo Credits:Feature photo (original) by John Richardson License:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Ordination photo provided by Father Maginot.
Gary, Indiana photo by Marc Tarlock License:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Pontifical College photo by Gabe Knezek License:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Former web marketing manager at Catholic to the Max. Enjoys attending concerts, watching films from the 70's and 80's, reading non-fiction and biblical commentary, and biking in warm weather. Married to Angelica.