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A Conversation with Francis and Judith MacNutt, Interview by David Kyle Foster

David: What is your first memory of knowing God?

Francis and Judith MacNuttFrancis: As far back as I can remember I believed in God. I went with my dad to church every Sunday. I was always serious about God and very intent on wanting to do His will.


David: How did that evolve into a call to be a Catholic priest?

Francis: It took a little time. I never was sure what I wanted to do with my life. It was only after graduating from Harvard and from Catholic University that Thomas Merton’s book, Seven Story Mountain, helped persuade me to become a priest. I was ordained a Dominican in 1956.


David: As a Roman Catholic priest, how did you become involved with Agnes Sanford and the healing ministry?

Francis: In 1967, I met Agnes Sanford at “The Camp Farthest Out” in Tennessee. I was fascinated with the idea that God still healed today and she prayed for me to receive the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” She also prophesied that God would use me to bring healing back to the Catholic church, which largely came true.

A year later, I attended a school of pastoral care that was taught by Agnes Sanford, Tommy Tyson and John Sandford. I learned a lot in those days.

I then began to share the news about the baptism of the Holy Spirit while giving talks to different groups, especially to priests, and there would always be some who would ask to receive prayer for it.

Eventually, I became the president of the Catholic Homiletic Society in St. Louis—an organization of 1,100 Catholics. While there, I simply followed Matthew 10, where Jesus said to preach that the kingdom of God is at hand, to heal, and to cast out evil spirits. I wrote and spoke about this quite openly, and many asked me to pray for them.


David: Did your bishop approve?

Francis: It was amazing how well it was received. Many sisters got baptized in the Spirit during weekly meetings that were often attended by as many as 300 people. I’d give talks on the baptism of the Spirit, they’d receive it and take it back to their parishes. By the time I left St. Louis in 1980 there were 60 priests involved in 100 charismatic Catholic prayer groups in the city. It was extraordinary.


David: Were your audiences all Catholic or was it a mix?

Francis: It was a mix, but mostly Catholic. Frequently, however, we had ecumenical teams, often with Tommy Tyson. Ruth Carter Stapleton worked on a number of those teams before her brother got elected president. In the 1970s I took extensive trips to Latin America and Africa – perhaps 30 countries in all. At one retreat in Australia, almost all of the 220 priests asked for the baptism of the Spirit.


David: When did you write your first book?

Francis: I wrote Healing in 1974, which has gone on to sell about a million copies.


David: Judith, how did you meet Francis?

Judith: I was living in Jerusalem, running a house of prayer called Jerusalem House. My pastor, Dr. Robert Lindsey, was a respected scholar in the Southern Baptist Convention who had just experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He encouraged me to go to a meeting to hear Francis.

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Summer 2007

About the Author: David Kyle Foster, M.Div. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), D.Min. (Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry), David is the author of Sexual Healing: A Biblical Guide to Finding Freedom from Sexual Sin and Brokenness, Transformed Into His Image, and Love Hunger: A Harrowing Journey from Sexual Addiction to True Fulfillment (Chosen, 2014). He has served as adjunct professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, The Bible Institute of Hawaii, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Logos Christian College & Graduate School, and is on the faculty of the Wagner Leadership Institute. His articles have appeared in New Man, Charisma, Touchstone, and Rev magazines and he has appeared on programs ranging from The 700 Club, The Dr. Phil Show, and The Coral Ridge Hour to Janet Parshall's America. David is the founder and director of Mastering Life Ministries and producer of the “Pure Passion” TV program. He makes his home in the Nashville, TN area.

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