Request for exorcism to the Archdiocese of St. Louis 'on the rise'

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Jane Guenther is the director of Catholic Spiritual Renewal for the St. Louis Archdiocese. Her snug office sits on the first floor of the Rigali Center — it’s warm and comfortable with plenty of literature stacked on bookshelves and end tables.

Guenther said her main purpose is to focus on promoting the Holy Spirit in the Archdiocese. But she also deals with the darker side of the spirit world. Guenther handles all incoming requests for exorcisms in the Archdiocese. She works as a sort of triage doctor when it comes to spiritual warfare. She hears the request for exorcism or spiritual deliverance cases and decides if it should be elevated to one of the three Catholic priests in the Archdiocese who are trained as exorcists.

Guenther made it clear that exorcisms are still necessary today. She said her job is to investigate the person and find out if it’s really a possession or maybe something else. There can be mimicking behaviors between psychological conditions and evil possession. She said they work very closely with mental health professionals and when evaluating a person’s history, they look for open doors that could let a demon take hold. Open doors can include Ouija boards, dabbling in the occult or intentionally calling upon evil spirits ... to name a few.

People are brought to the Catholic Church by family or friends who care about the person and really don’t know what else to do. She says Jewish rabbis, Muslims, Protestants and people without any certain religious belief have brought people to the St. Louis Archdiocese for exorcisms. 

“When witnessing a possession it is very intense, but it’s not like Hollywood,” Guenther described what it’s like to be with a possessed person. Saying she can feel an evil presence in the room, the person may display unnatural movements and contortions and can also have superhuman strength.

“I’m actually encouraged by the way science and faith are coming together on this,” Guenther said, going on to explain that they work closely with mental health professionals.

She said there are times when psychologists will bring a client to her ministry saying to her they’ve done all the analysis they could do and that whatever their client is dealing with is a spiritual issue.

In the last five years, she said her ministry has seen an increase. 

“I think it’s universally on the rise,” Guenther explained about the occurrence of requests asking for spiritual deliverance and exorcism. She even went to the Vatican to learn more about what the Church calls a systemic evil and why there seems to be an increase in this particular ministry.

Guenther hopes people move towards the good instead of the bad. And when asked about what she thinks about her ministry she said, “It’s truly amazing to see the end result of a spiritual deliverance. Through the prayers of the Church, we get to see someone come in afflicted and leave free.”

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