“After the ceremony of exorcism was done… [I] closed the ceremony…The next day Father Nelson invited me to work with him in the Ministry of Healing and Deliverance. I told him that I’m not a priest but a laity. He told me, ‘No, last night when you finished prayer, a woman who I couldn’t free or was not free, with your final prayer she was free.’  I also know it’s not me who does it, I am a channel. It depends on my faith and experience but also on the faith of others and what God wants for each person at each time. When I pray for someone it’s as if I was praying for the first time, not based on a previous experience. It’s case by case and I don’t know what’s going to happen. I intercede, impose my hands. What will happen is not up to me. I am just a channel.”

 

Monsignor Joaquim José Stein is no ordinary priest.  He is an exorcist trained in charismatic rituals of healing with the Holy Spirit, and he is the priest of an Orthodox church that has realigned with the Pope and the Catholic church.  When my producer in Brazil, Tom Boechat, and I arrived at the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in São Paulo, Monsignor Stein was quite busy with several christening ceremonies and said that he was not going to be able to be interviewed.  But as we were leaving the church, he got a glimpse of my Sekonix light meter and said in Portuguese, “I wish I had a light meter like that guy!!!”  Smiling in amusement, we quickly explained what we were doing and asked if we could make his portrait.  Monsignor Stein literally took a few steps back into the vestibule of the church and I quickly took two shots, both of which are among my very favorite portraits in the project.  

Six years later, when I returned to São Paulo to interview all of the participants on video, I was so pleased to be able to see Monsignor Stein once again and to hear his story in depth.  First, he acknowledged his Jewish ancestry—hence the surname Stein.  He shared with me his unexpected journey to becoming an exorcist and a healer.  And he shared with me his love of photography.  

The spiritual lesson I learned from Monsignor Stein is that I shouldn’t be so quick to put people in boxes and make so many assumptions about others, just as I ask others not to make assumptions about me—about how my Judaism fits with other spiritual experiences I have had, such as meeting Jesus in a very important dream or that I am a corporate marketing expert working on a documentary about faith, for example.  I love how Monsignor Stein does not force himself into a box.  He has standing-room-only services on Sunday because people are attracted to his unique combination of Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, and healing with the Holy Spirit that defy a single label.  I am inspired by the example he is setting for us all.