Father Dean Perri spoke with Church Militant on the need to fight the powers of darkness and the good that God brings out of it.
A priest of 15 years from Rhode Island, Fr. Perri recounts how a spiritual battle with the demonic helped lead him and three other men to the priesthood. Speaking of a youth group he attended when in his twenties, Fr. Perri recalls seeing a possessed woman throwing a large man some 20 feet.
"My friend, who just entered seminary, flew right by me," said Fr. Perri. "He was about 240 [lbs.], he was a good-sized guy. ... We thought to ourselves, 'How could this woman have thrown this guy ... almost 20 feet?' Come to find out, it seemed like she had been possessed."
Perri, who was a chemical engineer at the time, related how the possessed woman became violent as soon as she walked in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It took five men to hold her down, while two priests prayed the minor exorcism prayer of Pope St. Leo XIII. The priests instructed the young bystanders to pray the Rosary for her deliverance.
While holding the woman down with four other men, Fr. Perri said the demon in the woman was recounting their hidden sins. "While we were praying, this entity, whatever it was, started yelling at us, calling us out by name and telling us the sins that we did. It was telling us the things that we did in our lives. We were shocked by it."
The priest instructed them not to listen to the devil but to keep praying. After a three-hour ordeal, the woman was finally freed from the grip of the devil.
The incident would bring about a great good. Young Dean Perri and three other men who witnessed the event that night would go on to the priesthood. "We saw the power of the spiritual life at work," Fr Perri said. "We saw the power of the priest made visible before us."
The possessed woman would later reveal how she had led a life that allowed evil to enter. "She came later to admit that she let herself in on this," Fr. Perri explained. "She got a little bit involved with the occult, and let her prayer life go by the wayside. She didn't take her faith life that seriously."
"There's a spiritual battle going on — good against evil," he continued. "God's given us many weapons and many tools, and He's given the priest a special ability to handle these things."
He noted how witnessing the incident had made a great impact on them all for the good. "God can use even something that is bad and bring good out of it," he remarked.
Not only did four men go on to become priests, but the formerly possessed woman became spiritually stronger because of it: "Her faith became even stronger. She became dedicated to the Church and now works as a DRE [director of religious education]," Fr. Perri explained.
He went on to speak of another more recent situation where a person had wanted him to drive out the devil from her house but didn't want to live a holy way of life. Father Perri affirmed that owing to the person's lack of devotion, after he had driven the devil out of the home, it came back.
Recalling what took place after his original minor exorcism of the home, Fr. Perri commented, "About a little over a month later, I get a phone call from this same woman, and she told me whatever it was just came back. I said, well, have you been going to Mass and going to confession?" She admitted she hadn't been keeping up with her spiritual life.
He urges everyone to go to Mass weekly, go to confession at least twice a month, wear the scapular and pray the Rosary. He told the woman, "Without these spiritual weapons, of course it's going to come back."