Things mysterious and paranormal were some of the topics Saint Mary Catholic Church’s Father Mike Paraniuk discussed during a recent in his rectory. He said he has witnessed some very odd supernatural occurrences that are nothing short of spine tingling, from spirits and hauntings to dreams and people being possessed.
Inside Saint Mary Catholic Church, ornate accents adorn every corner of the building. The soothing colors of the sanctuary compliment the rich history of the structure. Pale yellow, deep blue and pink accents make for a unique and comforting atmosphere. Next to the church is Paraniuk’s residence, the rectory. Inside the residence, dozens of vintage radios line the walls, evidence of a devoted collector. Two portly cats bask in the warm afternoon light shining in through the windows. It is in this quiet room that Paraniuk spoke of his experiences with ethereal presences.
Dealing with the paranormal isn’t an everyday occurrence for Paraniuk. Occasionally, members of the church request a house cleansing, in which Paraniuk uses holy water and special blessings to rid a house of evil forces. Although he has dealt with the supernatural much more than the average person, he is not a part of any official paranormal investigative group.
“What I’ve done is that people call me as a priest to bless their house,” Paraniuk said of his involvement with the spirits. He has also dealt with the ridding of evil presences in humans. With a series of commands and holy water, he said he has rid possessed individuals of evil.
Paraniuk explained he experienced a spirit in the rectory where the interview took place. Father Stan Luehrmann, a former priest at St. Mary, passed away in July 2005. Paraniuk replaced him in November of the same year as residing priest. One day shortly after he arrived at St. Mary, Paraniuk said he found a tabernacle missing a key. Later, he returned to find the matching key resting on a nearby surface.
“I know it was Father Stan Luehrmann. Not all experiences are evil. Sometimes they’re helpful,” Paraniuk said, gesturing toward a decorative container.
Another time, during a restoration of the sanctuary, Paraniuk said Luehrmann appeared to him in a dream. Paraniuk said Luehrmann instructed him to stop painting the ceiling ventilation grates pink, because the color would show dirt. Paraniuk said Luehrmann commanded him to paint them blue, so Paraniuk heeded the instructions and the grates are still blue to this day.
Paraniuk’s experiences with spirits are quite interesting and a bit terrifying. Not only has he had ghostly encounters, but he said he has even received vivid dreams of the deceased. His encounters with the unknown are exceptionally rare and just go to show that not everything is as it seems in Highland County.
Isabella Warner is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.