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An…unusual priest in Detroit:

Samonie says he saw Christ. It was on an early November evening in 1970 at St. Bernadette in Dearborn. Samonie was walking up a side aisle when he saw him — a bright light blocking the altar. He tells of the sighting in Light: "I fell to my knees and I could not stop the tears. The only way I can explain it is … I felt unworthy. Unworthy to be in the presence of my master."

Abs He’d begun seriously meditating through yoga six years earlier. But that next morning at 4 a.m., he had the awakening he had sought. He says a spirit guide held his hand and said, "Do not be afraid, I’m going to take you on a little trip." Samonie says he shot out of his body and into outer space.

For 40 nights in a row, Samonie says he visited ancient places. On the last night, he saw a stone slab, sort of like an Aztec calendar, which played a movie of an artist who time traveled, living as an Egyptian, Greek and Roman. The "movie" played through the late centuries, when Samonie sees the man lying on his deathbed. The artist asked for a painting of a crucified Christ to be brought to him, and said aloud: "Next time, I will give you everything." Samonie says his spirit guide motioned that the artist was talking to him. The guide said to Samonie, "That’s when you decided to become a priest."

Father Jay never preached about his personal experiences in church services, but Eastern philosophies, including reincarnation, came up in workshops he taught. During the late ’70s and early ’80s, while working at Holy Trinity, Samonie taught classes in the Silva Method of Mind Development and Stress Control, which focuses on meditation, healing, positive thinking and memory techniques to sharpen the mind. One local priest accused Samonie of "teaching the work of the devil" and claimed heresy.

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