Monday, March 15, 2004

Ex-Nun Embraces Gift as Medium

The Rev. Janet Nohavec (right)

(Religion News Service, 3/15/2004)
c. 2004 Religion News Service
WAYNE, N.J.—The Rev. Janet Nohavec, wearing a long purple velvet dress and a strand of pearls, is doing what she does every Sunday.

During the Journey Within Spiritualists’ National Union Church’s weekly service, the former Sister of Charity demonstrates her power as a medium, after three decades of hiding it.

After prayers, hymns and a homily, the demonstration begins. Nohavec picks a woman out of the crowd of 45. Nohavec tells her the name Jim or James is important to her and that someone close to her died in a car or motorcycle accident. The woman tells the congregation that her nephew James died in a car accident; that very day was the anniversary of his death.
Gasps and whispers ripple through the congregation, which meets in a wedding chapel at a catering hall.

Nohavec later explains the interaction between her and the recipients of her messages. “I need their participation to validate (the message),” Nohavec, 47, says in her office at The Angel Within, her metaphysical gift shop in Wayne. “If the message is going really well and the recipients are in the right place, I’m not going to get many no’s.”

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The British-based Spiritualists’ National Union, with which Nohavec’s church is affiliated, traces its history to 1848. Its core beliefs, called the Seven Principles, are: the fatherhood/motherhood of God; the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity; the communion of spirits and the ministry of angels; the continuous existence of the human soul; personal responsibility; compensation and retribution for good and evil deeds; and the possibility of eternal progress for every soul.

The church, which emphasizes contact with spirit world, teaches that mediumship should be verifiable.

Nohavec says that she can see, hear and feel physical sensations conveyed to her from “spirit people,” Spiritualist parlance for the dead. She also can see into the future.

“I love what I do. I treasure it,” says Nohavec, pastor and founder of her own church, teacher, one-on-one psychic reader and local celebrity.

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As a 4-year-old growing up in Franklin Lakes, N.J., she began by hiding her gifts.

“I’d be out playing, and all of a sudden, there’s a man standing there. And I’d run and get my mom, and she’d come, and there would be nobody there,” says Nohavec, who was baptized as a Roman Catholic, although her family didn’t attend church. Young Janet described a bearded man wearing a dark hat and dark clothing to her mother. Her mother said he was Janet’s paternal grandfather, who had committed suicide.

Were these sightings influenced by photos in the family album? “When my parents came here (from a displaced persons camp in post-war Germany), they brought no pictures of any of these people,” says the medium, who is of Czech and Polish heritage.

Her mother considered the manifestations a bad omen. As a result, Nohavec ignored the spirit people she continued to see. At 25, she joined the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station. Five years later, she left before taking final vows.

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She embraced her gifts two years after leaving the convent. At the invitation of a friend, she attended a circle (a group of people who contact the dead). “That night was the first night I heard a spirit person,” she says.

She began attending a Spiritualist church. Eventually, she trained at Lily Dale, a Spiritualist enclave in New York, and with the Spiritualists’ National Union in England.

The SNU’s teachings “resonated with me. Just live by the Golden Rule,” she says.

Still, she had her doubts. “Once I started to hear the spirit people ... I can remember just praying to God: ‘Are you sure you want me doing this?’” The reply, she says, was a clear yes.

With that certainty, nine years ago, Nohavec founded the Journey Within. Over the years, the congregation has grown to 150, with 75 official members. On Sundays, the church usually draws 50 to 60 attendees. Among them are Christians and Jews, some still active in traditional congregations.

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“The ... goal is to have an alternative place for people to worship who are not fitting into traditional religions,” says Nohavec.

Journey Within members Bob and Camille Pearce of Pompton Lakes fit that description. Bob was raised a Presbyterian and Camille a Catholic, but neither had attended church for 30 years. This husband and wife of 31 years have found a spiritual haven and a pastor whose powers and character they admire.

Bob says of the church: “There’s a lot of peace and love, and there’s truth behind it.”

The first time they attended the church together two years ago, Nohavec brought messages from Camille’s grandmother Anna, they say. Among the many details revealed were Bob’s father’s death of an unexpected heart attack; his father’s connection with ships (he was a veterinarian on a passenger ship); his half-brother’s service in the Coast Guard; and the cemetery and town where his family is buried.

“Nobody knew any of this,” says Bob, a retired computer system installer.

“By the time she got done with my husband, I stood there with my mouth open,” says Camille. “I believe she is definitely a medium. There is no doubt in my mind.”

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Tips for Consulting a Medium

c. 2004 Religion News Service
(UNDATED) The Rev. Janet Nohavec, a Spiritualist pastor, says a large percentage of people who claim to be mediums are fraudulent and unethical.
Here are Nohavec’s tips for avoiding phonies:
  • Pick a medium affiliated with the National Spiritualist Association of Churches of the United States of America (, which has 200 churches and camps throughout the country. The organization estimates U.S. membership at between 3,000 to 4,000, according to the Rev. Sharon Snowman of the NSAC. NSAC mediums undergo training, must demonstrate their gifts, and are subject to ethical standards, Snowman says.
  • Do not use someone who charges exorbitant fees. (Nohavec, for example, charges $75 for a half-hour private reading. Her Sunday demonstrations are free and open to the public.)
  • Avoid a psychic who insists you come back multiple times or offers to break a curse for you. “Cons always involve you coming back a lot or (for) money,” Nohavec says. “People should be ... very careful.”
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Journey Within Church Web site

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