Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Spooky Flashback: ‘Satan’ visits Buddig Hall

Picture+of+the+12th+floor+in+Buddig+Hall.+In+1968%2C+an+exorcism+was+performed+on+the+eighth+floor+of+the+building.
Sunny Bedford
Picture of the 12th floor in Buddig Hall. In 1968, an exorcism was performed on the eighth floor of the building.

EDITORS NOTE: This story was originally published on Feb. 14, 1974 by The Maroon following an exorcism on the eighth floor of Buddig Hall. The story has been republished in honor of the Halloween season.

With the overwhelming success of the movie made from William P. Blatty’s novel, The Exorcist, people have become fascinated with the occult, the preternatural, and the demonic.

According to Harold J. Vetter, Chairman of the psychology department, the world is in a state of tension. This fascination with occult reflects a real yearning of the people to restore an element of faith in God and the supernatural order.

“It’s ironic this takes the form of accepting the validity of evil,” said Vetter.

For some, however, the fascination has grown into morbid imaginings of diabolic interference in their own lives, according to Rev. A. Patrick Phillips, director of campus ministry.

“I’m already beginning to get calls and the movie hasn’t even come to town yet. People are already beginning to get upset by it,” he said.

But two Loyola co-eds were confronted with a series of bizarre happenings long before The Exorcist focused attention on the horrors of demonic influence. And, in 1968, a priest was called to perform a minor exorcism on an eighth floor suite in Buddig Hall.

Through several long-distance calls, The Maroon pieced together a series of incidents which for years have been rumored among Loyola faculty and students. The principals in these strange events were two 18-year-old freshmen, Marie Price Stevens and her roommate, Brenda (who asked that her last name be withheld). Witnesses to the incidents were Janet Jones and Dorothea Brennan, who occupied the adjoining room, 812.

The priest who met with the girls and who later performed the ritual is Rev. Harold Cohen, associate director of campus ministry. He declined to be interviewed by The Maroon.

Janet Jones begins the story:

“It was Brenda, Marie, and I who first began playing with the Ouija board. Dorothea didn’t believe in it, and I absolutely refused to cooperate with her. For a while, Maria watched while Brenda and I worked it. It would spell out that it was an evil spirit, and three or four times, it asked us to put Marie on. When she got on, it said it wanted to possess her. Marie simply laughed, but when it kept repeating this, she became nervous. And then we began to be afraid.”

Marie Stevens continues:

“Then we communicated with a woman named Hazel. Moving in fluent sentences, she said she was a Creole from New Orleans whose husband died in prison for a crime she committed. She gave a date close to the turn of the century.

“We communicated with her daily. One day, while playing in Neil’s room (a student who lived in Biever Hall), Hazel again came to us. Neil laughed at her once and she spelled, “Cut stomach. Kill Neil.”

“The next morning, Neil had stomach cramps in the cafeteria and collapsed on the way out. We rushed him to the hospital and were told he had acute appendicitis.

“We were afraid after that, but continued playing. Finally, Hazel disappeared and “Satan” appeared to us. We asked it to prove it was Satan, and it said it would appear in a blue flame over Brenda’s head. We turned out the lights, and Janet and I saw only the shape of Brenda’s head. On her face were blue features; blue eyes, nose and mouth. And on her mouth was a tremendous, Satanic grin. Screaming, I turned on the lights.

“Soon after, Dorothea, who never believed in the Ouija, called a priest. Fr. Cohen called Janet, Brenda and I into his office. He said he’d never seen anyone possessed by the devil and had never performed an exorcism, but he never wanted to. He said the possibility existed that we were in contact with Satan. And if we were, he didn’t know what would happen.”

Brenda continues:

“It wasn’t like you had to convince Father of these occurrences. It was as if he knew something he couldn’t tell us. He read from the Bible of someone who was possessed by the devil. I didn’t think it appropriate. He made us promise not to play with Ouija anymore. But we walked out of the office and said, “Let’s go see what it has to say.’”

Marie added:

“We continued to play with the Ouija occasionally. But whenever we contacted “Satan,” we’d stop. Then at 2:00 A.M. several weeks later, Brenda and I were dozing off when we heard noises. The objects on the shelves above our beds were moving back and forth. Thinking Brenda was up and moving things, I asked what she was doing.

“She said, “I’m still in bed. What are you doing? I sat up and tried to see her when suddenly the big poster tacked to the right of the window flew at me with tremendous force. We had screens on our window and there’s no way the wind could have lifted the poster with such force.

“I turned on the lights and saw the poster lying on my bed. And the objects on the shelves were rearranged. The ash trays were on the other end of the shelf and many things were moved. In hysterics, I called Fr. Cohen at 3:30 that morning. Later that morning, he met us in the lobby, we took him to our room, and he performed an exorcism.

“There were six of us girls who formed two lines on each side of him. He said prayers in Latin and sprinkled holy water on our beds and throughout the suite. We all said the “Our Father.”

After Marie related the story of the exorcism, she looked back on what may have caused the bizarre events.

“They say that subconsciously, you can make the Ouija move. But some of the things it spelled out were so absurd, so wild, I knew none of it was in the back of our minds. So I threw out that theory. I decided we had contacted some spirit, and I also knew it was evil. But I didn’t know whether it was actually Satan. “By saying at first it was Hazel, it might have been lying, trying to lead us on, trying to make up a fantastic story to have us in its power.

“If we had stopped playing with the Ouija, maybe the incident would never have happened. But the frightening thing is, if we had kept on with it, perhaps one of us would have been possessed.”

In retrospect, Brenda is doubtful she was in contact with evil spirits.

“Some really strange things happened, and I believe there was something there. But I also believe we made too much of it. We were freshmen, and it was the easy way out. We went too far with it,” Brenda said.

In referring to the incident, Rev. Stephen Duffy, Chairman of the department of theology, admitted to the possibility of obsession, but, “I would be very skeptical. The boy with the appendicitis sounds sheer coincidence. No one can demonstrate to me there were devils. But neither can I disprove it.”

There is no way of knowing if Hazel were actually Satan, said Rev. Joseph McGill, Associate Chaplain, because, “the devil is a liar and a nihilist.”

“But one thing is certain,” he added. “Marie was convinced she was in contact with a reality that caused her repugnance and fear. But we have no way of knowing if the communicator was the devil. If it was, her fears were not groundless.”

Rev. Louise Lambert, Vice Provincial, who was in doctoral studies in historical theology, (specializing in demonology), draws no conclusions from these bizarre happenings, but suggests they might have been caused by hysterical suggestion.

“Ninety percent of these occurrences are hoax, five percent are genuine and unexplainable, and five percent are from abnormal powers.” Fr. Lambert added that two abnormal powers include telekinesis, a physical force the brain exerts in matter which can actually will an object to move, and clairvoyance, a power to read minds.

“But these are natural, rather than spirit-given powers,” he said.
He warns that playing with sorcery and Ouija boards can open one to the power of illusion and hallucination, and “we can base our life decisions on these foolish things.”

Walter S. Maestri, assistant dean of arts & sciences, is doubtful that one can contact evil spirits through the Ouija board.

“We know for certain that Ouija boards and seances are many times fraught with fraud. The devil doesn’t manifest itself at the beck and call of an individual.”

But Fr. McGill disagrees.

Fr. McGill believes that playing with the Ouija, astrology, and seance can lead to more serious consequences. They can bring out the devil.

“We can become so fascinated with evil that we unconsciously fall into an abyss of the Evil One. There is a saying ‘When you supper with the devil, use a 10 foot spoon.’ I prefer to say I don’t eat.”

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About the Contributor
Sunny Bedford, Senior Staff Photographer
Sunny Bedford currently serves as the senior staff photographer for the Maroon. Sunny is a freshman marketing major and enjoys photography and writing. In her free time, she often sits and breathes and occasionally thinks in tandem with such activities. Sunny can be reached at [email protected].

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