Exorcisms Gaining Popularity in Bay Area

A look into Bay Area exorcisms and the men who offer the service

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Stephanie Chuang takes a look into Bay Area exorcisms and the men who offer the service.

    Do you believe in exorcism? More and more people do. New information reveals Americans are turning to exorcism to deal with their demons.

    NBC Bay Area take a look at two Bay Area exorcists who are being tapped more and more for their spiritual powers.

    Father Gary Thomas is the official exorcist for the Diocese of San Jose.

    Under order of Pope John Paul II, he traveled to Rome in 2005 to train in the Vatican-certified seminary on how to perform an exorcism.

    Father Thomas was the inspiration for Anthony Hopkins' character in the 2011 movie "The Rite."

    “Since the movie came out the number of exorcists has quadrupled," Father Thomas said.

    He works with a team and is accompanied by three medical professionals during the procedure, which he says does not happen in one day. He estimates 90-percent of the cases he sees are just mental health issues.

    No major U.S. medical organization recognizes exorcism. It doesn't even get one mention.Father Thomas says the ritual doesn't need a debate or acknowledgement from anyone, except those who need it.

    "If people are coming and they're suffering from what they perceive to be demonic and even though it may not be, we're still there to help support them however we can," Father Thomas said.

    Catholic priests aren't the only ones getting the requests.

    When Steve Lukacsy started hearing demonic voices he first turned to a doctor for help.

    "I'm bipolar and a psychologist prescribed me medicines," Lukacsy said.

    The medicines failed, according to the East Bay native, adding that demons pushed him into alcoholism.

    For help, he turned to a man who calls himself Brother Carlos after medicines failed him.

    Brother Carlos' real name is Carlos Oliveira.

    “I feel like I’m doing the work that Jesus Christ did 2,000 years ago," Oliveira said.

    He doesn't charge for his services, but does take donations. He says he isn't trained and is not part of a church.

    "I'm open to debate anybody on the subject. I still haven’t found anyone to debate -- I am looking for scientists, doctors, and physicians to debate me. Nobody wants to debate me," Oliveira said.

    Father Thomas says the ritual doesn't need a debate or acknowledgment from anyone except those who need it.

    “If people are coming and they’re suffering from what they perceive to be demonic and even though it may not be -- we’re still there to help support them however we can," Father Thomas said.