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Delphine
07-15-2007, 02:48 PM
Remembering An Exorcist

by Rod Dreher

Friday, October 31, 2003

Not a Halloween goes by that I don't think about my old friend the Rev. Mario S. Termini, who died a couple of years ago. Fr. Termini was an exorcist who lived and worked on the bayous of south Louisiana.

Here's a 1992 Washington Times story I did, which relates events surrounding a kind of exorcism of a haunted house near New Orleans, to which I was a witness.

I read the story today for the first time since it was published. The thing that jumped out in my memory today from my reporting experience on this story was hearing Fr. Termini tell me that Satanist groups would go out on pagan feast days, especially Halloween, into the south Louisiana swamps and perform human sacrifices. I thought he was exaggerating.

Then I called the head occult crimes investigator for the Baton Rouge Police Department. He was unwilling to share details with me, but he told me (and he's quoted saying so in the story) that Fr. Termini was right and that the ritual occultism that actually goes on are so "far-fetched" that it's hard to get people to believe them.



COVINGTON, La. - Shelby Kelly, housewife, grandmother, exorcist's assistant, stands next to a small grove of saplings, nervously crossing and uncrossing her arms, at times pressing her palms flat against the sides of her head. She is short of breath. She is shaken. A dream she'd had the night before told her a child was murdered on this spot. That killing, she believes, has something to do with a curse placed on this property, the curse Mrs. Kelly has come to help lift this steamy October afternoon.

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Covington (red star), north of New Orleans.

"It's here. This is the place. This is it," she tells the Rev. Mario Termini, the official exorcist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, who awaits her directions. Father Termini and his two other assistants, Florence Delapasse and Mike Dupre, will perform a Mass of deliverance to free the land from what they believe is demonic oppression.

Though exorcism prayers and Bible readings will be used in the rite, this will not be an official exorcism, which follows a specific rite and usually requires the permission of the local bishop. The three join an increasingly distressed Mrs. Kelly on the site to pray the rosary. Mrs. Kelly, overcome with grief and worry, stops her prayers to fight back tears. Yvette Michaels (not her real name), owner of a luxurious house on the property, watches from a patio deck with two relatives, a reporter and a photographer.

"It's going to get worse, much worse than it is," cries Mrs. Kelly, backing away from the grove with her hands raised, as if to fend off a threat. "They can't stay. They all have to go inside."

Father Termini commands Mrs. Michaels, her relatives and visitors to go inside the house and not open a door or a window until the Mass is over. They are told to observe from the windows of Yvette's bedroom, some 20 feet away from the grove. The old priest gives the spectators rosaries with instructions to wear the prayer beads around their necks. He asks for their prayers.

"People don't understand how evil this is," he says, his voice stern, his countenance dark. "Somebody's been murdered there, more than one, on that site."

Minutes later, Father Termini and Mr. Dupre retrieve holy water, wine, communion wafers, crucifixes, rosaries and vestments from a car. They will say a Mass to release the spirits from this place and drive away the demons bedeviling the woman whose new house sits, mysteriously rotting away, on the accursed land.
Under the pines and magnolia trees, with fat Louisiana swamp mosquitoes chewing at their arms and legs, the four wet their hands with holy water. Father Termini lights a blessed candle. The Mass begins.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

In "Hostage to the Devil," Malachi Martin's landmark 1976 study of exorcism, the theologian declares that the "Evil Spirit is personal, and it is intelligent. . . . . In very normal ways spirit uses and influences our daily thoughts, actions and customs and, indeed, all the strands that make up the fabric of life in whatever time or place. Contemporary life is no exception."

Father Termini and his team believe this from personal experience. You don't have to attend a Black Mass to open yourself up to evil spirits, they say.

They will tell you that people can come under demonic influence, if not outright possession, through what Father Termini calls "serious sin," such as adultery, illicit sexual practices, child abuse and suicide in the family. Owning books or objects that glorify the occult or pagan religions is asking for trouble, they claim.

Halloween is the most dangerous time of the year when it comes to spiritual warfare, Father Termini says, because the ancient pagan festival is the night when Satan and his minions are most active - as are Satan worshipers.

"It's the time when Satanists practice human sacrifice, especially of children," the priest says. "We have satanic cells around here. They exist in all big cities."

That's the truth, says Sgt. C.P. Wilson of the Baton Rouge City Police intelligence division. He refuses to discuss investigations in detail, but does confirm that Father Termini's observations square with his experiences.

"This is difficult to talk about and deal with from a law enforcement standpoint," the police officer says. "Some of the stuff is so far-fetched, it's very difficult to convince people that it's really going on."

Says Father Termini: "Nobody wants to believe there's witchcraft being practiced and animals and children sacrificed in their own neighborhoods. It's too much to think about. But, it's happening."

Most believers in exorcism are charismatic Christians, both Protestant and Catholic. Charismatics firmly believe in the spirit world, and take literally the stories in the Gospel of Christ casting out demons. Father Termini and his three helpers - all charismatic Catholics - know that most priests and lay Christians don't believe in their work. This does not bother them. They don't seek converts.

"It's not my place to argue with them," the priest says. "When the Lord wants somebody helped, He sends them to us. We don't seek out
anything."

ASSUMING THE MANTLE

Father Termini, 74, is the pastor of St. Joan of Arc Roman Catholic church in the tiny Cajun community of Bayou Pigeon. He became a priest in 1979, after his wife died, but had been engaging in what charismatics call "spiritual warfare" for seven years.

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Bayou Pigeon (red star) slightly southwest of Baton Rouge.

The priest assumed the mantle of diocesan exorcist in part because nobody else wanted to do it; those priests who didn't believe in demonic possession scoffed at it, and those who did were terrified, he says.

Except for their deep Catholic faith, Shelby Kelly, Florence Delapasse and Mike Dupre seem unexceptional. Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Delapasse describe themselves as housewives. Mr. Dupre is a family man who spends his days off from his job at a nearby chemical plant helping Father Termini perform these so-called deliverances. They seem quiet, solid, sensible.

Mr. Dupre says they've never seen anything as exotic as the case depicted in "The Exorcist," in which the possessed child vomited and contorted her body. On her first deliverance, however, Mrs. Kelly says she briefly became partially possessed.

She only recalls being enveloped by impenetrable darkness during the episode, and fearing for her life. The others say Mrs. Kelly, a large woman, was thrashed on the floor like a rag doll in the jaws of a pit bull.

THAT CERTAIN FEELING

Yvette Michaels, the owner of the house north of New Orleans, reached
Father Termini through a friend of a relative.

Books, she said, were flying mysteriously off shelves in her new home.

Father Termini and his team agreed to visit the house only if Mrs. Michaels would agree to do as they asked if they found signs of demonic infestation.

Mrs. Kelly believes God gave her the gift of being able to discern the presence of evil spirits in people, places or things. When "that feeling" comes over her, Mrs. Kelly knows she's dealing with the devil. She says she has used this power to ferret out hidden spell books, secret adulteries and other concealed items or behavior resulting in demonic obsession, in which a person or place is attacked by evil spirits, or possession, in which the victim's soul is held captive and body inhabited by evil spirits.

That feeling struck her when handling certain books and objects in Mrs.
Michaels' house on Oct.14. Following the priest's instructions, Mrs. Michaels burned the books and buried the objects that couldn't be consumed by fire.

But Mrs. Kelly felt something else. The inexplicable rot permeating the outside of the house - which afflicted no other homes in the neighborhood - was caused by a curse placed on the property, Mrs. Kelly contended. It would have to be lifted, or Mrs. Michaels would know no peace. Mrs. Michaels consented to allow the team to celebrate a purification Mass in her backyard.

"It scared me. Petrified me," Mrs. Michaels says. "You always question anything up to a point. I might have had a moment or two of doubt, but in the long run, I believe in what [Father Termini] is doing. I'm on the receiving end too."

Mrs. Michaels, 65, asks that her real name not appear in the paper. She's afraid her friends will think she's "a crazy old woman." And she doesn't want identifying details of the house published: She's thinking of selling it.

INVISIBLE FORCE

"This is a serious thing here," says Father Termini, as he approaches Mrs. Michaels' house in his car. "Satan knows what's going to happen just like the Lord does. He came against me last Thursday in my bed, trying to snuff out my breath. That's the first time he's tried to do that to me."

Father Termini follows the order of the standard Catholic Mass, adding a number of Scripture readings concerning exorcism, and various prayers to
break the curse and any unholy covenants made on this land or by Mrs. Michaels' ancestors.

Ten minutes into the Mass, Mrs. Kelly falls to her knees on the dusty ground, wailing.

"I feel it . . . it's her son . . . kneeling . . . his head in her lap . . . she never knew him . . . he's only 11 years old . . . she's not living, and she can't rest . . . ohhh, baby . . . I can't do this," she pleads, her agonized words riding the waves of her sobs. The others cocoon her in prayer, the priest in English, Mrs. Delapasse and Mr. Dupre in staccato, unknown tongues.

After a short time, Mrs. Kelly recovers and the Mass continues uneventfully. Father Termini consecrates the Host, the holiest moment of the Mass.

The priest takes communion, then turns to administer it to the others.
Mrs. Kelly, last in line, receives the wafer on her tongue and returns quietly to the other side of the altar. Father Termini sprinkles consecrated wine from the chalice on the ground surrounding the altar.

Suddenly, an unseen force hits Mrs. Kelly hard below the right shoulder. From the bedroom, witnesses see a slight indentation form at the place of impact, as if an invisible hand pressed sharply against her. She flies backward, shouting, her fall broken by a plastic garden chair.

Mrs. Kelly is on her knees now, held by Mrs. Delapasse and Mr. Dupre. Father Termini places his hands on her head, commanding, "Satan, I bind you in the name of Jesus! I command you to loosen and take your hands off her!"

"He [the evil spirit] told me if I took communion he was going to knock me down, and he did," Mrs. Kelly says, when she gets her breath back.

"That was his last kick," the priest says.

DELIVERANCE

After the Mass has ended, Mrs. Kelly signals the all-clear to those waiting in the house, who join the team outside. Mrs. Kelly tells them the Lord let her see a blond woman in this spot, cradling her murdered child in her arms, and feel the mother's grief. Mrs. Kelly believes the murder has something to do with an occult ritual conducted on this site not many years ago.

"The house is clean. Definitely," she reassures Mrs. Michaels.

The grateful hostess invites everyone to stay for dinner. Around the table, Father Termini instructs Mrs. Michaels to make sure she says a prayer of thanksgiving for the deliverance of her house and land. That's the only payment they require. "What was done here today, money can't buy," he tells her.

If Mrs. Kelly feels at peace, Father Termini believes the evil has gone. The priest has great faith in her powers of discernment - so much so that a single white candle leaping straight up out of its candlestick after dinner and arcing about two feet across the table bothers him not a bit.

Delphine
07-17-2007, 12:01 AM
I thought I'd bring this up since tonight's show is about excorcisim....


"Here's a 1992 Washington Times story I did, which relates events surrounding a kind of exorcism of a haunted house near New Orleans, to which I was a witness.

I read the story today for the first time since it was published. The thing that jumped out in my memory today from my reporting experience on this story was hearing Fr. Termini tell me that Satanist groups would go out on pagan feast days, especially Halloween, into the south Louisiana swamps and perform human sacrifices. I thought he was exaggerating.

Then I called the head occult crimes investigator for the Baton Rouge Police Department. He was unwilling to share details with me, but he told me (and he's quoted saying so in the story) that Fr. Termini was right and that the ritual occultism that actually goes on are so "far-fetched" that it's hard to get people to believe them" :shocked:

MuseNoir
07-17-2007, 12:08 AM
Great story, Delphine! Thank you!

Boomer
07-17-2007, 12:40 AM
Remembering An Exorcist

Now that was some story!