Priest Leonid, a Redemptorist Priest from Ukraine province, participated in the 15th International seminar for priest in Medjugorje and gave the testimony, first to the other participants and then to Radio Station Mir Medjugorje. The following is his testimony translated to English...
My first pilgrimage to Medjugorje was related to my obligations and to my occupation in the priest vocation. Namely, in 2005 local Church entrusted me with huge responsibility and gave me heavy burden to carry and that was service of exorcist. The first months and the very first year were filled with God’s love and grace, but also with great difficulties and temptations.
One of the major difficulties took place during one session of exorcism over a seriously possessed person. The demon spoke to me through the possessed person in very scary voice. The demon's words were full of horror and death...
“I am horrible, I am powerful, and I will destroy you. I will destroy your priesthood and burn your life to ashes...I will make you suffer for the rest of your life.”
Although, the threat was quite bad, I did not take that seriously at all. After all, I believed in God completely and I did not have any reasons to doubt that. I also knew that if I had fear in front of the Satan that would be as if I already lost something. But God allowed this situation to take place, and I am going to share with you how great and how mighty his Mother is, and how Medjugorje is Holy and sacred ground.
Suddenly, inexplicable, I was seized with terrible mental depression and mental pain. I suffered and when I was tempted daily, I was not able to pray at all.
I would go to confession every single day, but Satan tormented me every minute of the day without rest. The temptations were so strong that I lost peace in my soul completely. Not only that, I also felt that I lost my priesthood and my vocation. I felt that something had totally destroyed my life.
In that difficult reality, while I was still unable to figure out what was happening to me, somebody asked me to go to Medjugorje. With no hope I joined with a group of priests and left for Medjugorje.
When we arrived I was just not able to pray, not even when they prayed as a group. During that pilgrimage I met one other priest, father Ambrosias from Slovakia. He completely sacrificed his life and his vocation working with people from Ukraine in the region of Carpatho, Ukraine. He traveled and worked right after his heart attack, and he also suffered from diabetes.
Every where it was packed with people, priests, nuns, and lay people. I sat next to Fr. Ambrosias and I turned my back to the apparition site. In my heart I felt unworthy of being there at all.
Yet, as the Rosary began I felt desire to look towards the direction of the Apparition, to see what was happening there. At the same time I felt the desire to look the dark sinister voice commanded me to not to look there. The hate filled inner voice accused me saying...
"You are failure and you will end up in hell. I will drag you there myself."
My mind was in turmoil I felt worthless and horrible. Then, from no where positive feelings directed my eyes towards the apparition site. As I looked I begged for a sign. A pin prick of light broke through the darkness. Something, some one gave me the courage and I suddenly that freedom was possible.
She was coming closer to me to everyone present on that hill. As She drew closer to me, the power of evil was disappearing. In my heart I experienced new revelation. I was able to experience how powerful Her presence is, how she was so humble. It was then, in that moment, that I realized that She does not cast away evil spirits, but that they flee from Her.
They are not able to bear Her purity and beauty of Her presence. She does not humiliate them nor She does she need to sends them away. The Divine Love given to Her by Her SON JESUS CHRIST causes them to flee because they can not stand that!
By the Divine Mercy of GOD in Heaven a change of spirits within me took place. The evil dark spirit of Satan, the hellish spirit that destroys, disappeared taking with it all of my depressions and fears. Instead of that evil spirit, Our Lady’s love replaced it.
In my heart, I heard the voice: “Do not be afraid, I am your mother! I am your guarantee that you will not be destroyed, that you will not fail.”
Everything changed in an instant. That experience of the presence and love of Our Blessed Mother became miracle of love that saved me. A Priest slowly dying, yet now my vocation and my life have been resotred to me.
After I went home I started to feel Our Lady’s presence in every exorcism I perform. I will just share one little example, since there are many similar ones. Our priests were dealing with one possessed girl who came to confess in front of one young priest who just returned after his studies in Rome. And as he was saying the absolution words, the evil spirit, Satan possessing that person hit that priest so hard that he was knocked across the room. Then, the same evil spirit started mocking the other priests daring them to remove the evil spirit from the little girl. The priest were afraid and scared so they called me the Dioceses exorcist. In short order I stood before the possessed little girl and I started to pray over her.
As I began exorcism, I knew instantly the spiritual diagnosis. Straight away I knew that the girl was severely possessed. I invited five devoted faithful to pray in support of me as I began to exorcise the little girl.
I recited traditional prayers of exorcism, the evil spirit just laughed. It spoke to me in English language, humiliated me and constantly mocked me saing that I had no power over it.
Then, I began to pray to Our Lady for help. I was totally exhausted. I began to be nervous as well. I felt that I need to finish my prayer, but the evil spirit was not going away. It was one spirit of many, the spirit of suicide began to torment me saying that it would make the little girl kill herself.
Exhausted, I began to call Our Lady with all of my heart. In the same way as the child calls his mother when he is afraid. Then, the real screaming began as the evil spirit shouted...
“ It burns, it burns, the light is too bright here now, there is no more darkness in her... I can not stay here any longer, The Lady is here, I must go away, must go away.”
With that feeble cry the spirit fled and was gone. This was just one situation and there are so many other ones. During these five years, as I have been entrusted the service of exorcism, I experience many temptations and trials. I had those before; I know I will have those in the future as well. But, Our Lady, Mary the Mother of Our Lord JESUS CHRIST keeps me in Her heart and assists me in my duties as a Diocesan Exorcists.