The Start of my Thesis: The Cryptic Strays

The Cryptic Strays is a series of drawings inspired by strange or ghostly stories that have been told to me by those who experienced the incidents.

I was one of those kids that would sneak out of bed and sit at the top of the stairs to listen to my parents and their friends tell stories. I was fascinated by the humor, and odd stories that adults would tell to amuse one another. As a teen I discovered that other kids had done exactly what I had done as a young person… to listen and retell stories that amazed us, humored us, and especially the ones that scared us. This is a tribute and exploration of the love of storytelling.

This project started with a single question posted to my friends online; Have you experienced anything that could be considered paranormal or haunted. Please just answer back Yes or No.

Over a three day weekend, I received over 75 Yes responses. Of those who responded positively, I reached out and requested stores, to date I have been told over 35 stories.

The Phantom Priest.

Back in high school, I got a job as a weekend janitor and groundskeeper at a Catholic Church. One of my jobs included locking up the worship space after evening mass on Sunday. The first weekend I was locking up alone, I heard someone calling out "Who's there?"

Thinking it was the pastor, forgetting I now had lock up duty, I called out, "Oh it's just me. I'm just locking all the doors." Since I didn't get a response back, I went along closing and cleaning up.

Later, I ran into Father Edwin and asked him if he had forgotten I was closing up. He laughed and said; "No, I remembered. I've been giving a presentation to the youth group all evening. You have been up here alone."

And that was the first time I realized St. Mary's was haunted. After some inquires, I found that there was only one death on the premises. A priest named Father Francis passed away on site over 60 years ago. I figured it must be him checking up on things.

Throughout my tenure as a custodian at St Mary's, I'd had little run-ins with him. I'd catch what looked like a priest in the old garbs walking the halls every once in a while. Other times I'd hear the click of the long rosary beads priests use to wear from their belts as if they were hitting a pair disembodied legs walking at a leisurely pace.

Nothing was never malicious, it felt like an old pastor who never retired from keeping an eye on his church.