Ever wonder how an exorcist masters the abilities to battle devil children spinning their heads, projectile vomiting green puke, and scurrying across the wall like a spider? It turns out the answer might be the same as any other specialized profession—they attend a work conference, an annual Exor-Con.
Actually, the Pope Leo XIII Institute has given their event the less snappy but equally intriguing title “Summer Conference 2016: The Virgin Mary’s Role in Defeating Satan.” The conference is hosted by the Pope Leo XIII Institute, which has an office in Milwaukee, but the con itself is taking place at the Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago.
The institute also offers 10-day exorcism courses, which cost $1,500, for clergy. One of the learning objectives? “Priest participants develop expertise with the Rite of Exorcism and methods for use.” Or in other words, “Priests learn how demon bustin; makes ’em feel good.”
The conference, which started Sunday and runs through Friday, has a daily lineup of prayer, Holy Mass, meals, and of course compelling talks on battling Satan, all riffing on the Mary theme this year. Bishop Thomas Paprocki is giving a talk titled, “How Mary Leads the Church Militant to Christ’s Victory,” and Monsignor Charles Mangan will deliver “Mary’s Perpetual Virginity: Chastity as Spiritual Armor.”
Undoubtedly, the rock star of the con is Fr. Gary Thomas, who travelled to Rome to study under grandmaster exorcist Fr. Carmine De Fillipis. His story was the basis for a 2010 book titled The Rite, which was made into a movie the following year starring Anthony Hopkins. Fr. Thomas is giving a talk titled “Mary & Exorcism: How the Mother of God is Present During Every Exorcism.”
Don’t expect to get in to learn new tricks to battle your own demons, though—registration for the event is closed, and in any case, the conference is only open to members of the clergy or those that can provide a letter of approval to attend from their Bishop, which is probably not you.