Night of frights at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church

Oct 28, 2023

MARION — St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church opened its doors for the third annual “Ghost Stories on an Autumn Night” on Friday, Oct. 27. 

Father Eric Fialho has been telling ghost stories at churches for the last decade and brought the idea to St. Gabriel’s when he moved to Marion in 2021. 

Fialho recited two stories from his favorite author, M.R. James, titled “Lost Hearts” and “A Warning to the Curious.” According to Fialho, these stories are two of James’ darkest. 

“What I love about his writing is it will haunt you for the next week or two — you will begin to think about it little by little,” said Fialho.

“Lost Hearts” was originally published in 1895, while “A Warning to the Curious” was released in 1925.

Fialho grew up in Salem, which he believes had an impact on the passions he has developed.

“Ghosts are a big part of Salem at all different times of the year — it has stuck with me,” said Fialho.

The event reminded Doug Leatham of hearing horror stories earlier in his life. “Way back then it wasn’t as easy to access horror movies, it was storytelling, and Fialho is a great storyteller,” said Leatham. “Halloween can be a very fun and festive time. It is fun to have a little fantasy sometimes.”

Fialho said emotion is part of what makes a great storyteller. “Using your face is very important.  Being able to have light on your face so people can see that is important.”

Fialho uses repetition in his storytelling to emphasize the dramatic effect of crucial parts of stories. “Even though it might not say it twice in the story, I repeat myself at times to bring the audience back,” said Fialho. 

In addition to retelling James’ stories, Fialho has produced horror stories of his own. In 2013 and 2014, Fialho told his story “Going to the Grave” often before shifting strictly to James’ writing. 

All proceeds from the event are going toward a mission trip for youth members of the church. They will be going to New Mexico to help run a day camp for Navajo youth. 

Fialho chooses to embrace Halloween every year. “I think the themes of Halloween are misunderstood a lot by Christians. Often they stay away from it.”

Attendees were treated to wine and cheese following the event.