| By Joey Reistroffer

When something's strange in your neighborhood

When a home starts making odd noises and shadows begin flitting about where no shadows should be flitting, don’t call the Ghostbusters. No, Bill Murray and his crew can’t handle this kind of craziness. This is a job for a priest, and they do wonders with home blessings.

Father Rafael Padron from Jesus Our Risen Savior Church in Spartanburg brought his holy water and blessed every nook and cranny of a parishioner's home.

A sense of comfort settled in as Father Padron blessed the entrance, dining room, living room, kitchen, hallways, bathrooms, bedrooms, closets and even the basement. Then he blessed several rosaries, scapulars and crucifixes around the house. The noises stopped and the shadows ceased. No more flitting; only peace.

Jamilyn Miller, her husband and their nine children, can relate. They left upstate New York seven years ago for the friendly southern climes of upstate South Carolina, settling in Union County. 

“We moved into the house six years ago,” Miller said, adding that her mother-in-law had been encouraging her to bless their new home “ever since we got it.”

The family finally took that advice to heart about a year ago.

“Some of the kids began developing a little anxiety, and we started thinking maybe it could be a spiritual thing,” she said, so they called on Father David Whitman, pastor at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg, to bless their home.

“We were all there. The kids were very excited, showing Father each room and each closet,” Miller said. “We had heard that a man had passed away from mental causes in our home.”

Since Father Whitman’s blessing, Miller has sensed the anxiety level in her children has eased.

“I have seen it diminish,” she explained. “Now we feel we are more spiritually protected in our home.”

Father Whitman noted another case where strange things were happening, and he was called to help out.

“I once blessed a restaurant,” he said. “It had been handed down by grandparents to their son. His daughter got in there once and started playing with a Ouija Board. Not good. Things started happening, and they called me to bless the restaurant.”

Most blessings, however, are not to combat the ominous. Families moving into new homes simply want them blessed so they can feel the sense of peace it brings knowing they are guarded spiritually.

Chelsea Nigoa got out of an abusive marriage and bought a home where she and her children felt free.

“It is a place of refuge, a place of prayer, a place of safety. It made sense to me to have it blessed,” she said of their home in Boiling Springs. “You can get the holy water and do it yourself, but I thought it would be better for a priest to bless it.” 

She said the blessing made it more special, meaningful and sacred. The event was a small, private affair attended by a close friend, her parents and an aunt and uncle.

“I love our home,” she said. “God’s presence is there with us. It is a place of comfort and refuge.”

For Nigoa and her children, faith starts in the home and builds with the sacraments. She sees her daughter and her son making that connection in their new home.

“The sacraments are God reaching out to us,” Nigoa said. “These are the building blocks and the stepping stones for them. We have a Crucifix in almost every room. It’s a constant reminder. It’s how we connect with God.”

Maria Kuch and her husband Jason also made a connection with their new home, which is only 10 minutes away from St. Paul. They moved from Hawaii to Austin, Texas, to South Carolina, where they finally feel settled.

Kuch said their children are grown and living in Austin, but the city was too hectic for them. She and Jason were thinking of their retirement and wanted to find “a quieter place.” They found it in the Palmetto State.

“We are outdoors people, and we love the trees here,” she said. The Kuches also love the weather and the people, perfect for retirement.

But first, they needed their home blessed.

“We did not want to live there without a blessing. It’s part of my culture,” she explained. “I’m from the Philippines. My mom always told me that when you start a house, you always bless it.”

“It is important in our culture to have that,” Kuch continued. “A house should always be Christ-centered. God’s spirit is always with you to help you and to bless you.”

Kuch said in the Philippines a house blessing is like a welcoming. Now the Kuches feel welcomed, and they love their neighborhood.

So, if strange things start happening in your home or neighborhood — Catholics are “gonna call” a priest and come together for a blessing.

Joseph Reistroffer is a long-time writer who teaches religious education classes at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg. Email him at jrjoeyr@gmail.com.