James J. LeBar
Father LeBar was ordained in 1962. In 1973 he was asked to become part of the Office of Communications of the Archdiocese of New York which at the time was dealing with the rise of cults and occult activity. He performed his first exorcisms in 1988 and 1989. He also published his book, entitled Cults, Sects, and the New Age in 1989. He counseled many former cult members and was a frequent speaker on the subject.
He first came to prominence in 1991 when he took part in an exorcism in Palm Beach, Florida, which was broadcast on the ABC television program 20/20. He was appointed the chief exorcist of New York in 1992, by the late Cardinal John O'Connor. On June 25, 1995 Father LeBar was one of the guests on the Geraldo Rivera television program exploring satanic ritual abuse.
When asked during an interview if he ever witnessed levitation during an exorcism he said, "I myself, have never seen a major levitation in the course of an exorcism. However, in one case in the preliminary investigation, I had a person who rose up above the pews of the church and was suspended there for a few minutes."
He told Spirit Daily at the time of the 25th anniversary release of the film The Exorcist that it, "is about the most accurate portrayal of what can happen at an exorcism that I have ever seen."
Actress Winona Ryder spoke with Father LeBar about exorcisms in 1999 in order to prepare for her film role in the movie Lost Souls in which LeBar was one of the consultants. He even allowed her to view some videotapes of exorcisms he had performed.
In July 2002 Father LeBar addressed a conference of Roman Catholic exorcists in Rome. He lives and works in New York State and is presently assigned as Chaplain of the Hudson River Psychiatric Center in Poughkeepsie, a post he has held for almost twenty years.
Father LeBar died of heart failure on the morning of February 21, 2008 at St. Francis Hospital in Poughskeepie, NY. He was admitted and diagnosed as having a bacterial infection which became septic. He was placed on a ventilator in intensive care and died of heart failure.
Father LeBar was buried from Regina Coeli Parish in Hyde Park, New York. His body lay in-state at the church, where visitation were held on Sunday, February 24 in the afternoon and evening; the Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated with one of the auxiliary bishops of New York on Monday, February 25, at 10:00.
According to a colleague of Father LeBar: "For those of us who knew and worked with him, were served or mentored by him, we are trying with God’s grace to come to terms with this loss, both personally and for the Church in America. I have often remarked about Father’s disarmingly dry sense of humor—a hallmark of the same man who at times directly addressed and expelled demonic forces. A friend asked yesterday, “I wonder what Fr. LeBar will say when he sees God the Father?” I have no doubt that his sincere but usually witty response, along with his slight Bronx accent, will be something like, “Well—you do look better in person...”"