this is about a haunted place in Glen Ellyn and the towns surrounding the place. A true ghost story. Originally published on diary-x.com but now that had a system failure it is now reprinted in Tales of the Talisman. The distinction in this magazine is that this story is the only true one in there. Now about to be reprinted in Haunted Times Magazine.
Observations of an Abandoned Seminary
Written by Nickolaus A. Pacione
Just something about the Maryknoll College that captured my imagination back in September of 1997. Though the place is not there anymore as I am writing this at the age of twenty-eight, but when I am writing of this place it would be if it was while it was still there for the reader to get an idea. Glen Ellyn, Illinois, was a town that had a history of the haunted because of this college, but no one really talked about it because of the Christian college is just the next town over in Wheaton. It was always a place that captured my imagination because of the ghost story that lived within the streets. I cannot put my finger on it then and could not put my finger on it now. Just the detail of the story is one that I will have to bring back from my memory, to when I was twenty-one at the time --- a curious individual when it came to things of the supernatural.
I was intrigued by the story even when I first started writing horror, but did all my reading about the place after when I went in there in that September. The stories about the place were ones I overhead from various friends who used to go in there when I was in high school, but never gave it much though. I felt the place looking over the highway as it had this personality that I cannot go to describe in some detail, though I knew there was something about the place that just stood out to me for some odd reason. It had this mystique to the place, one that can be described for the backdrop if one was reading a gothic novel or a ghost story. When I was a teen I knew that deep down I would end up visiting the Maryknoll College or as the kids would call the place, the Scaryknoll.
The reason I prolonged my wanting to go into the place was because of having friends who were involved with Bible Study and prayed every day. The idea of ghosts and haunted places was not whispered around them because they would give this paranoia if I’ve been involved with the occult. It was part of the folklore and history around Glen Ellyn, this place was the holy grail of haunted houses in the area --- the history around the place created the intrigue. My wanting to go into the place grew more and more as I was being told all these stories about the dead priest being seen in the abandoned chapel. Each piece of the story was told from different points of view, but each one came together the evening of September 1997. My intrigue for the place grew after going to Cuba Road back around the weekend before Halloween in 1996. I didn’t ask around near Wheaton College because I would of got a few cold looks, namely being they believed that the supernatural was only that of God and Satan.
“What could you tell me about the old college on the hill,” was what I would say to a few who lived in the area. Not many gave me a response when I asked about the place, my interest peaked more when I entered College of Du Page about the place namely because the old seminary wasn’t that far from the community college. When I started reading H.P. Lovecraft, it was when it really snowballed from there. I wanted something to write about, the college was it --- especially since this was one that found its way into an encyclopedia of haunted places in the United States, there were two in Du Page County alone within the Chicago area. This was the one I knew the most about more though at the same time I knew very little about the college itself. Even when I was involved with Intervarsity Fellowship at the community college, this place was on my consciousness. Somewhere within my dark and dwindling imagination this place was painting itself into my memory.
It was a hushed thing among the circles over there, to talk about the supernatural in the way I am going to write about it here. In the questions I would ask some of the members about their ideas of the supernatural, they would say there isn’t a thing as ghosts when people are dead. Though I always had this belief in ghosts even when I was involved with the Assemblies of God, but there was always something that would be among the unknown. If I brought the question of the unexplained to some friends of mine who went to the college in Wheaton, they would try to explain it away. The whole idea of ghosts and haunted places never really captured their imagination, but in the places like a town as Glen Ellyn – they wouldn’t realize that a ghost story lives in their backyard.
I went to the place a month prior to I actually went inside, it was mid-August. It was decorated with spray tagging and broken glass, the tagging had gang markings as well as cult tagging as well. Possible witchcraft happened in there but one wasn’t able to tell at the time of the first visit. I found myself asking the question if the place spooked many building inspectors when they were rendering the place unsafe to go into. I could imagine the squatters going into the place in middle of the winter and possibly feeling the ghost of the priest brushing across their face. One of the reasons I was intrigued about the college was that reason, they said the most haunted place in the seminary was the chapel.
Though I took my time in making my next move about going into the seminary, wanted to wait until no one was watching because going into the place would have been criminal trespassing. I knew the story about the priest from various other kids who’ve gone into the place while I was younger but here I was. Standing before the haunted house of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. I knew going into the place would give me some material to write about when I got older and here I am looking at a word processor actually thinking more about the place.
The seminary itself was quite big, and no one actually inhabited its doors since 1972 – about the time when they were starting to say that the place was haunted. Nervous about the idea of going into there, if anyone was to ask me that question now to tell the truth, I was scared shitless. A twenty-one year old kid going into this place, I did feel like a kid in a candy store knowing this was going to be inspiration for me later on. It was about mid-evening when I decided to go in, stashed my mountain bike somewhere off the grounds so I would not draw any attention to myself going in. The place I found myself entering at was a window of which the glass was absent, about the place where others before me entered. I was thinking some about the time in the Intervarsity Fellowship when I was at College of DuPage and what would they of said if I was to go inside of the abandoned college. They knew nothing about my curiosity towards haunted places, but if they did I would of got this sermon about how I was dwelling in the darkness.
One of the various reasons I kept this interest to myself, but it was no surprise to them I was reading supernatural horror books. Though it was something I didn’t mention to them about what I researched for the subject matter, just happened that haunted places were some of the things that I researched.
“Why do you even have an interest in ghosts or other things of that nature?” might have been one of the questions I would be receiving. Then they would go into this speech about the only thing supernatural I should be believing in is the power of God and the written word of the Bible, but sometimes the supernatural doesn’t always work that way. Though they would tell me to think on the pure or the lovely, I’ve heard that sermon more than once. Though it would work for some people, but the thing I kept thinking about was that old dark seminary which was abandoned long before I was born. Now here I am getting ready to climb into this place, everything within my imagination was going crazy at that moment. A dark place that had its history, and this place is one that loomed over Glen Ellyn since my youth. So in those moments going into the place I felt my heart going up into my throat because I wasn’t sure what I was going to see in there.
I found myself extremely nervous at that point of time, when I went into the seminary it was just a short walk to the chapel. A disturbing walk into the place, which was decorated with dead pigeons, and doll parts, then on top of the doll parts were torn pages of old hymnals. Piece by piece I walked into the hallways and looked into torn down rooms, broken glass glistened in the twilight while I found myself feeling around on the walls because I could not see my hands in front of my face. I felt something or someone watching me from this darkness, but it was something I could not describe then and there.
Though it was about a good hour and a half when I was walking around within the abandoned seminary. I was picking up the doll parts trying to speculate what they were doing because the way it appeared in the darkness. It was something the imagination had a hard time registering because it was something that could have been written inside of one’s nightmares. It becomes this dance of sanity and faith in which the supernatural was the playground, and living in a town around Wheaton, Illinois, this was something that became the most evident. Being one town was burying their eyes in scripture passages, while the other became inspiration for a gothic novel being written somewhere. When I was walking upon those floors of broken tile, it was something that became the details of nightmares as they were written in flesh.
“You must not be thinking about places like this,” would be something an Intervarsity member told me at one time when I was looking around about books, which were written about ghosts. Though it wouldn’t be until years after I’ve gone into the place that I would find the book I was talking about. The place was one that had this dark sanctity to this seminary; one that can only imagine what went on within its walls during the time when the school was active. The thought of someone feeling the ghostly hand brush across their face while they were asleep would have been quite eerie. I felt those students walking around in the halls and in my mind I was able to see them gathering in the dorms. Much as what I felt when I walked around the dorms in Saint Mary’s College two years later, but nothing could even compare to that when I first entered the Maryknoll.
Each stage within the place my mind was gathering within an imagination that I knew I wasn’t able to fathom, namely about the speculation about the priest who passed on in the place. Walking around one can really get a feel for how the students lived within the place and the question being, where was the place the most active in spectral activity? That answer happened to be the chapel – the place had this splendor to it that I cannot begin to imagine even in its broken form. From each place within the chapel I felt that it was cold throughout the place, almost if someone had their eyes watching me. It was a feeling that was not of this world, almost if someone was trying to tell me something from the other side. One thing I can describe of the place now was one that brought a sense of horror that could not be fathomed in any human detail.
Living between the two towns one cannot help but believe in the supernatural --- either if one believed in God or in ghosts, there was no way around it. As what it would be said, be it the devil or be it in him. The Maryknoll in Glen Ellyn is one place that can be debated about it being haunted until the end of time but this place was one that intrigued me more because it was in my backyard. It came together when I was standing in the chapel of the inside of this place, this thing looked like something out of a horror film --- though what they say things of fact are scarier than anything that could become imagined. It was hard to tell at the time if I felt the eyes of that ghostly priest in the place, but when I read about the place in the haunted encyclopedia I kind of knew that something, or someone was in there. Though it would be debated because I am right in the heart of the faith community.
Now that a few years have been distanced from Wheaton, I can safely write about the detail and the account as it happened. Though, I am going to remember this one greatly because it was my first ghost hunt alone. Though some might be reading this one saying I am making up the details of this one, but even then to the reader --- this will be a narrative left for debate. Among the older residents of Glen Ellyn they would not talk about this place, but the other end of the spectrum being the youth. The youth will be the one asking the questions, I told them about being in there and they were crowding me saying, “Tell us stories, what have you’ve seen in there.”
This narrative will give that younger generation some insight of what the place that is now a park used to be. Even if one writes of this now, and someone from back in Wheaton reads this one – I could only imagine what they would be saying, or even from when I lived in Mason City, Iowa. The idea of the supernatural there wasn’t of ghosts either, but I always had the idea that ghosts wander among the living especially if they died of reasons before their time. Even when they say of what their idea of the supernatural is, there will always be something different than what they know. In that; I would pen of my observations of the haunted, abandoned seminary.
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"Observations of an Abandoned Seminary"
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|Reviewed by Patricia Gomes
|I always enjoy your work, Nick. You bring the reader "with" you; your tone is never patronizing or pompous.
The "dead pigeons and doll parts" are the stuff of my many nightmares. You instinctively know what frightens the reader. Three thumbs up.
|Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
I could see you sitting there, having a conversation and telling this as a narrative story. Fascinating and very well told...I meant, written. No, told. :)
(((HUGS))) and love, Karla. :)
|Reviewed by ***** ********* (Reader)
|Nicely written, very personable (like the conversational tone you kept throughout the narrative -- it made the many facts and details easily digestible) "haunted travelogue" you created here, Nick! Interesting work!|
|Reviewed by Tracey L. O' Very (Reader)
|Neat building I'd have like to have gone in there with you or alone. Although I don't think that I'd been as scared as you were. lol
I believe and have seen things like that. Intersting building you really have my curiosity going here.
Love Tracey xo
Nickolaus A. Pacione