Exorcist shares past experiences with demonic possession

With Halloween around the corner and Hollywood releasing horror movies such as "Paranormal Activity" and "Saw VI," one cannot help but feel chills running down his or her spine. St. John's Catholic Newman Center had the timing right when it invited exorcist Father Vince Lampert to speak about his experiences Monday night at Foellinger Auditorium.

Lampert, the head priest at St. Francis and Clare parish in Greenwood, Ind., was ordained a priest in 1991. He was later asked by the archbishop of Indianapolis if he was willing to train as an exorcist, said Monsignor Gregory Ketcham, director and head chaplain at the Newman Center.

"Father Lampert was asked to take on the role of an exorcist because he is very prayerful and faithful, and he has a lot of integrity — he's a good man," Ketcham said.

Lampert is one of twelve exorcists in America today, Ketcham said. Lampert spent a whole summer in Rome training under Italy's head exorcist. This training included witnessing and assisting in about 60 exorcisms.

Now that Lampert has been a fully trained exorcist for several years, he said he receives five to six calls a week from people who believe they are possessed. Exorcisms are only performed as a last resort once the subject is determined to be truly possessed.

"For one to become possessed by the devil, one has to have a dedication to the devil, be cursed or lead a life that is full of sin; it is something more than just a struggle against temptation," Lampert said.

Performing an exorcism takes a lot of preparation by not only the subject, but by the exorcist too, Lampert said. Before each exorcism, Lampert has to go through a series of prayers and attend confession so the devil will not be able top reach him.

"In order for a person to be exorcised, they have to be fully committed to turning to Christ," Lampert said. "If they resist, the exorcism cannot be performed."

When determining if a person is in fact possessed, Lampert looks for several criteria.

"A person may be possessed if they have an ability to speak unknown languages, unhuman-like strength, the knowledge of the unknown, and an inexplicable aversion to holy places," Lampert said.

During an exorcism, Lampert goes through 10 steps, including prayers and blessings, he said.

"Sometimes the exorcism can be rather dull," Lampert said. "But I have seen a woman levitate and people's faces contort."

During his lecture, Lampert told several stories of extraordinary events that have occurred during his exorcisms. In one story, a person spoke in a childlike voice that was not his own, as it was the devil speaking.

People formed long lines before the microphone in order to ask Lampert questions about his unusual career. Many viewers were also listening attentively to his answers with gasping and awing. Many of the seats at Foellinger Auditorium were occupied throughout the event.

Erika Satterlee, freshman in LAS, said she went into the lecture not knowing much about exorcisms except for depictions in movies.

"The lecture was definitely interesting," Satterlee said. "It freaked me out too, which I knew it would."

This was Lampert's second time speaking at the University around Halloween, Ketcham said.

"Lampert's purpose of speaking is to share the Catholic view of evil and how it works in our lives," Ketcham said. "He is here to tell us the truth."