Montclair State’s demons weren’t expelled, but they might tread a little more lightly after Father Vincent Lampert visited campus on Tuesday night.
Lampert, a Vatican-trained exorcist, spoke to a room filled with over 200 students and outsiders as a part of Newman Catholic’s “A Night with the Exorcist” event. Nobody spoke in tongues, no one’s eyes rolled to the back of their heads, no one levitated and Lampert didn’t cast away any demons. Rather, Lampert discussed the Catholic theology behind exorcisms and sought to dispel any negative connotations surrounding the subject.
“Exorcisms are something that are kind of taboo, and you only see it in Hollywood movies,” Denise Sulit, Newman Catholic’s Vice President, said after the event. “We wanted to show our student body that exorcisms are real, but they’re not nearly the same as how they are depicted in Hollywood. It’s also really a true Catholic practice.”
Hollywood takes liberties in depicting exorcisms — there are no exorcisms performed in abandoned houses, for example — but that doesn’t mean Lampert hasn’t seen things that appear in the movies. Lampert claimed to have witnessed subjects foaming at the mouth, growling, shouting obscenities and heard demons respond to him.
Lampert described an extraordinary exorcism where he said a woman had seven demons inside of her. He claimed all seven demons spoke at the same time. Lampert went through his normal exorcism procedures, and after a year of working with the woman, he claimed he successfully expelled all of the demons.
After a grueling year, a victory of that magnitude necessarily comes with a sense of relief. Lampert’s celebration wasn’t that different from how a parent would treat their kid after a summer baseball game or dance recital.
“I stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home,” Lampert said. “And I had a chocolate shake. I was staring at everybody in the Dairy Queen and I was thinking ‘they have no idea where I just came from.’ If they did, the line would probably get a lot shorter.”
Lampert lived in Rome for three months and participated in 40 exorcisms before becoming an exorcist. Even though he claimed that he has run into real cases of demonic possession, Lampert exhausts every possible means before labeling someone possessed. Lampert described that he’ll work with psychiatrists and doctors to help the person before considering an exorcism.
Lampert meticulously detailed the process, reasoning and philosophy behind exorcisms. He spoke for over 90 minutes, but numerous attendees lined up to ask Lampert questions after his speech was over.
“It’s such an interesting topic, especially around this time of year,” Brenden O’Shea, executive treasurer of the SGA and Newman Catholic’s former treasurer, said. “It really is a fun way to learn about something that we don’t know a lot about.”
Not every student came to the event for learning or religious purposes. Dan Rivas, a senior fine arts major, came with a few friends and said he heard about it on the internet.
“I wanted to hear him say that he saw someone levitate, and he did,” Rivas said. “It was awesome.”
Allisone Cannone, Newman Catholic’s president, said that the organization hosted an exorcist once before in 2010. The event had a large turnout, and Cannone said she wanted to bring it back for those who didn’t experience it the first time and to educate the student body.