A widely known expert on parapsychology and the paranormal, the Rev. Alphonsus A. Trabold died Tuesday in Olean General Hospital. He was 79.
The Franciscan friar and member of the faculty at St. Bonaventure University, was a consultant on the Amityville case -- known in popular media as the "Amityville Horror" -- for the Diocese of Rockville.
But his friends and colleagues said Tuesday that there was much more to his work than a few sensational cases.
"There was a depth to his work," said the Rev. Francis Storms, who knew Father Trabold for 30 years. "Someone has to be given the gift and the grace to understand these things."
Father Trabold worked as a field reporter for the Psychical Research Foundation at Chapel Hill, N.C., and spent many hours each week counseling people who had psychic or supernatural experiences. He was a major contributor to the book "In My Name Shall They Cast Out Devils," by Robert Pelton. .
Born Roger Norbert Trabold in Rochester, he graduated from the Aquinas Institute. He began his Franciscan studies at St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, and subsequently studied in New York, New Jersey and at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. He had a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a master's degree in theology, both from St. Bonaventure.
He was ordained at Holy Name College in 1951 and served at parishes and schools downstate for several years. He came to St. Bonaventure in 1960.
A member of the university's theology department, Father Trabold taught courses in sacramental theology, but it was his elective course on the supernatural, "Religion and the Paranormal," which was popular with students, who dubbed the course "Spooks."
"He reached countless students by his thorough preparation and his devoted attention to his obligations to them," said university President Sister Margaret Carney. "No matter what subject matter he taught, he wanted his students to reflect on their own lives of faith through intellectual discovery and mastery of solid content."
Survivors include two sisters, Vera Trabold and Ruth Moreland, both of Rochester.
A Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday in the university chapel. Burial will be St. Bonaventure Cemetery, Allegany.