Exorcist priest draws crowd, questions at U. of I.

CHAMPAIGN — The exorcist arrived on campus.

Father Vincent Lampert, one of only 12 trained and facultied exorcists in the United States, spoke to a filled Foellinger Auditorium — capacity around 1,900 — at the University of Illinois Monday evening.

St. John’s Catholic Newman Center invited Father Lampert to speak near Halloween, or in Catholic tradition, All Hallows Eve. The goal of the evening was to “debunk” some preconceived notions people may have about exorcisms, said Msgr. Gregory Ketcham, head chaplain and director.

“Sometimes Hollywood does not always give us the truth,” said Msgr. Ketcham.

Father Lampert gave a 30-minute presentation about his work as an exorcist and then opened the floor for 90 minutes of questions.

FATHER LAMPERT is pastor of Sts. Francis and Clare Parish in Greenwood, Ind., and has been an exorcist for four years. In that time he has performed five exorcisms and witnessed around 60. However, he gets five or six calls a week from people seeking assistance for things they cannot understand.

“The majority of calls, people lost their spiritual footing in life and need some way to get them back on path in life, and lead them back to Jesus Christ,” said Father Lampert.

He described four ways the devil can move:

— Infestation, or evil activity taking place in an object or place.

— Obsession, an intense attack on the mind.

— Oppression, physical attacks on the person that appear and disappear without reason, and

— Possession, the devil using and acting through the person’s body.

IF A PERSON has the ability to understand and speak a language he doesn’t ordinarily know, exhibits extraordinary strength, has knowledge of information they wouldn’t ordinarily know or has an inexplicable aversion to sacred objects, that person could be possessed by a demonic spirit, Father Lampert said.

Once a person has been approved by the bishop to have an exorcism, there is a 10-step process to drive out the demon. There is no set amount of time this could take, as each case is different, according to Father Lampert.

“Most times they are not very dramatic, sometimes they can be rather dull,” Lampert said.

Father Lampert did indulge the audience in some of the more dramatic exorcisms he has witnessed, such as a woman levitating, an older woman lifting up a chair with one arm and a man’s jaw becoming dislocated.

“Evil doesn’t scare me because I know the power of God is greater,” Father Lampert said.

The audience, comprised mostly of students, kept Father Lampert on his toes for the remainder of the time asking questions ranging from Ouija boards to times of day when the devil is most active.

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