A Catholic priest recently blessed the Las Vegas hotel room from which shooter Stephen Paddock fired hundreds of rounds of ammunition on Oct. 1, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds of others.
The Rev. Clete Kiley of Chicago, Illinois, told Newsweek that he confronted evil when he approached a hallway inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s 32nd floor on Oct. 18 — and that he felt the same presence when he walked into the room.
“I felt surrounded by the mystery of evil,” he told The Chicago Sun-Times.
In fact, Kiley told the outlet that he even felt something physically push him back as he made his way toward the room.
“I felt like I was being pushed back, like, ‘Don’t come in here,'” he told Newsweek, noting that he started to pray the “St. Michael, the Archangel, to defend us in battle” invocation as he walked toward the room. “On the inside, I’m going, ‘Oh no, you have to go.'”
When the priest reached the room to deliver a “spiritual cleansing,” he said that he could once again feel the sense of evil, as he saw firsthand the bullet holes and physical effects of Paddock’s horrific massacre.
He felt a “real, profound silence” in the room and described how powerful it was to see the damage firsthand. Kiley used water, a palm branch and invoked the Holy Spirit inside the room in an effort to drive out evil.
“I blessed the water according to the Roman ritual and then began to bless my companion and me, and then each and every corner of the suite. I blessed each bullet and room going back down the hall,” he said. “I used the prayer for the blessing of a house and extended the prayer with an invocation to the Holy Spirit to descend in this place with light, joy, peace, hope and life.”
The priest was at the hotel with UNITE HERE!, a union of hospitality workers, when he was asked to comfort Mandalay Bay staff members. It was while he was praying with them that the hotel manager asked if he would bless the room.
According to the priest, other faith leaders might be brought in to do the same.
In the end, Kiley, like everyone else, is left in mourning over the tragic loss of life that unfolded inside the hotel.
“This is what we call the mystery of evil,” he told Newsweek. “You cannot use reason to put the pieces of this together.”