I’ve never been to Salem, Massachusetts but I’ve read about the witch burnings there in the 1600’s. Religious fanatics not unlike today’s ISIS vigilantes. Same idiocy, different time and place. Halloween is a great time for witches to appear in the neighborhood- I’ve had a few show up at my door. Princesses, robots, Batman and goblins too! Lots of fun.
Yet what if there are people today who believe that there are real witches- witches living in the neighborhood! And what if there is a religious component to this? I heard a remarkable story of this exact scenario a few days ago. A Catholic priest who runs a parish within 20 minutes of my house believes exactly this! No kidding. There are several witnesses to this- all credible including a 14-year-old girl. In fact, she was accused of being a witch! And she didn’t even know this priest until she attended the funeral of her neighbor, a high school senior who tragically died of a brain tumor.
At communion time, this girl and her older sister, mother and grandmother waited for their row to be called, then proceeded up the aisle, received communion, then took their seats once again. Shortly thereafter, when communion ended, the priest unexpectedly left the altar and slowly walked into the assembly, looking carefully down each row, left and right. He stopped at the row where this family was sitting and said, “There you are!” (remember, this was a funeral service with grieving family and students) “You didn’t take communion properly,” he scolded, “you needed to place the host in your mouth before walking away!”
The young lady, now red faced and crouching in her pew, looked down at her shoes in embarrassment. The priest walked away and went on with the service. The grandmother, a good friend of ours, made a beeline to the altar area after the casket was in the hearse. She demanded an explanation from the priest as to why he singled out her granddaughter. Without blinking the priest said, “There are witches in the neighborhood!” And he went on, “They show up at communion and steal the host to use in their rituals!” “And my granddaughter?” “Well,” he went on,” because she did not place the host in her mouth and walked away…” The grandmother interrupted, “You suspected her of being a witch!” Holding his ground he replied, “Well, you never know these days,” and walked off.
i wish that this was fiction but it isn’t. Is it any wonder that the Catholic Church is seeing more and more empty pews? Clearly, that family will never set foot in church again and, when the incident spreads among the students, and it already has, those kids will be even more suspicious of maintaining a church relationship in their young adult years.
And the priest? Through an email several days ago, I gave him an opportunity to verify or correct this story but, not surprisingly, he did not respond.
This reminds me of the squelched story of several Toledo area priests who were themselves into satanic rituals. One of them, Gerald Robinson, was later convicted of the satanic murder of a Catholic nun. David Yonke, former Toledo Blade religion editor wrote a book about this, Sin Shame and Secrets.
Maybe there is another book awaiting copy about the delusional priest who believes that: There are Witches in the Neighborhood!