LEWISTON — Catherine May Sabine believes she will go on and on, even after her breathing halts and her heart stops beating.

“We never die,” Sabine said. “The purpose for our being here is to grow.”

And you grow by helping others grow.

That’s the message Sabine shares on Sundays with attendees at the Spiritualist Church of Eternal Life, a Lewiston church she founded in 2009 at the age of 72. Now 75, Sabine will add “reverend” to her name.

On Sunday, she will be ordained.

A short ceremony will be officiated by the Rev. Bradley Gosselin, vice president of the 113-year-old National Spiritualist Association of Churches. Attendees are likely to include a few dozen parishioners, friends and family.

There may also be a spirit or two. Services at the church typically include readings that seek out friends or family who have died but, Sabine believes, have hung around.

“It’s not all we’re about,” she said. Though silver-haired, she looks fitter than 75 years and talks in a precise manner that undercuts the movie image of a wispy and ethereal ghost-seer.

“We believe everyone has a spirit being that lives within you,” she said. “We’re not fortune-telling. We’re not psychic.”

Rather, seeing spirits is simply a part of spiritualism.

“We just talk about positive, uplifting things,” she said. “Get your vibrations up. Keep yourself healthy.”

It’s the kind of stuff that takes a lifetime to learn, she said.

Sabine grew up as a Catholic in Portland.

As a girl, she said she hung up on the Christian belief that Christ died for everyone’s sins, which she called “vicarious atonement.” At 8 years old, she found it to be too easy.

“I believed you had to be responsible for yourself,” she said.

And, she began seeing images she interprets as spirits.

“It would just happen, and I never knew what to do with it,” she said. Her mother also saw spirits, she said. She was a devout Catholic, though.

“She didn’t know what a medium was,” she said of her mother. “She was worried that she was a witch.”

Sabine found some solace with her paternal family in New Brunswick. Her father was a Native American from the Micmac Nation. She spent time with the tribe.

And there were other spirits to face. Sabine became an alcoholic. However, after years of self-abuse, she halted her drinking with the help of a 12-step program.

“I’m a recovering alcoholic,” she said. “I stopped drinking in 1971.”

Sabine was working as a counselor about 12 years ago when she was introduced to Spiritualism by a friend.

“I was so impressed because now I knew that I saw spirit entities,” she said. “Now, I knew I was receiving messages.”

She began attending Spiritualist churches around the region, learned the basic teachings and refined what she experienced.

After meditating, she did readings. She met with people and the images of loved ones appeared, she said.

“Sometimes I see what they’re wearing,” she said. “Sometimes I see a color. Sometimes I see flaming red hair or I’ll see their eyes are blue.”

She tries to figure out who it is and what they want.

“We maintain our identity when we pass into the next realm,” she said. Often, the spirits are guides.

Not that they’re all harmless. Left to their own devices, they can be annoying, if not downright haunting. Some would appear any old time, she said.

“I don’t allow that to happen,” she said. “That’s discipline. I never, never, never, never allow the spirits to control me. I’d be crazy.”

She maintains control, she insists.

She learned part of that in her schooling for ordainment. She graduated last year from the Morris Pratt Institute, a spiritualist school in Milwaukee. And she has plans for a new church in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

“I’m looking to buy my own church as soon as we can find a building that is cheap,” she said.

First though, she plans to celebrate her ordainment in the church’s temporary home in a second-floor hall overlooking Lisbon Street in downtown Lewiston.

Sabine plans to wear the robes she wore when she graduated from Penn State. In the late 1970s, she earned a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation from the University of Maine at Farmington. In 1983, she earned a master’s degree in education administration at Penn State.

“You go through all that work and you want to wear the robe,” she said.

It’s all part of her journey toward becoming “a higher being,” Sabine said.

“We never die,” she said. “We never stop growing.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: