Francis S. MacNutt, Ph.D.
Born in 1925, Francis MacNutt grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and had hoped to become a physician after finishing college and medical school. However, ten days before entering Washington University Medical School, he was drafted into the Army, where he served as a surgical technician during World War II.
Following military service, Francis returned to college on the GI Bill. He graduated from Harvard University with honors and then earned an M.F.A. from Catholic University of America (in the Speech Department). At Catholic University, Francis was profoundly affected when he read Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain. Francis’ father was a deeply religious man who instilled in his son a sincere love and reverence for the Church. Francis’ life took a new direction when, at Catholic University, he felt drawn to the priesthood.
In 1950, Francis joined the Dominican Order, the Order of Preachers, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1956. At the Aquinas Institute, he earned a Ph.D. in Theology, and then was appointed to teach homiletics (preaching) at the Dominican seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. During his seven years of teaching, Francis wrote three books on preaching. He helped found the Catholic Homiletic Society (which no longer exists) and served as its president and, later, as its executive secretary.
In 1967, Francis was invited to a week-long charismatic Protestant retreat. Among the leaders were Rev. Tommy Tyson and Agnes Sanford. It was at this retreat that Francis asked for prayer to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Not long after, he experienced a dramatic turning point in his ministry. Mrs. Sanford told him that he would be used to bring healing prayer back to the Catholic Church. He began praying for the sick and many were either completely healed or noticeably improved. More and more he realized that a very important part of Jesus’ ministry (healing and deliverance through the power of the Holy Spirit) had been commonplace in the early church, but had been largely overlooked or ignored in the modern church. In 1977, Francis was one of the speakers at the famous conference at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.
Francis was one of the first Roman Catholic priests to be involved in charismatic renewal and in an active healing ministry. He was an instrumental member of the group of charismatic leaders that formed the Charismatic Concerns Committee (CCC) in the early 1970s. The CCC was later re-named the Charismatic Leaders Fellowship, and Francis has served as its chairman for the past several years.
As the charismatic movement gained momentum in the early ‘70s, Francis became widely known and respected among Catholics and Protestants for his teachings about healing prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives. He resigned his administrative positions and began a full-time traveling ministry, preaching and teaching with teams that included Catholic and Protestants, such as Fr. Mike Scanlan and Ruth Carter Stapleton. In just a few short years, Francis ministered in 31 countries on all five continents. Merton House in St. Louis was his home base, as well as a center for charismatic renewal in St. Louis, where 60 priests were involved. In 1976, Francis became a founder of the Association of Christian Therapists, whose purpose was to bring healing prayer into the medical profession.
Francis first met Judith Sewell, briefly, when he was a speaker at an international conference in Jerusalem (1975). Their paths crossed again, through ministry, two years later. They were married in 1980 and settled in Clearwater, Florida, where they established Christian Healing Ministries that same year. Since the very beginning of their marriage, Francis and Judith have traveled widely, speaking and ministering together. In 1987, at the invitation of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, they moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and expanded Christian Healing Ministries into a healing center for prayer ministry and teaching.
In 1993 Francis received a dispensation from the Church and their marriage was celebrated with a ceremony officiated by the Most Reverend John Snyder, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, at Marywood Retreat Center in Jacksonville. Francis and Judith have two grown children, Rachel and David.
In 2007, the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service in the Vatican co-sponsored an international conference with Christian Healing Ministries for 450 Catholic leaders from 42 countries. Held in Jacksonville, the purpose of the six-day conference was to bring the teachings of Francis and Judith to the worldwide Church.
Francis’ entire ministry has been dedicated to bringing healing prayer back to its rightful place among Christians. In 1974, he wrote Healing, which has become a classic. He also has written Power to Heal, The Prayer That Heals, Overcome by the Spirit, Deliverance from Evil Spirits, Homosexuality: Can It Be Healed? and The Healing Reawakening. He and Judith also co-authored Praying for Your Unborn Child.
Judith C. MacNutt, M.A.
Judith C. MacNutt is a native of Jackson, Kentucky. As a young girl, Judith would frequently observe her mother praying in their home for the hurting people who were drawn to her for help. Judith, too, began to experience a deep desire to help others. This led her to study psychology and earn a Master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University.
Upon graduation, Judith moved to Boston, where she worked as a clinical psychologist at several area hospitals. She soon discovered, as she worked with disturbed patients, that psychological therapy alone was inadequate to meet the needs of suffering people. Judith had a deep faith and prayed to God for an answer as to why the patients did not improve. More and more, she sensed that the Lord was saying, “Bring them to Me.” As she began to quietly pray for her patients, she saw immediate results: they changed in remarkable ways and often were able to leave the hospital permanently.
In 1974 Judith felt drawn to move to Jerusalem, where the Southern Baptists offered her a position as director of their center of prayer. This center was unique in that they ministered to both Jews and Arabs. Judith accepted the position and remained in Jerusalem for three years. She had an unusual opportunity of seeing many people healed through prayer at a time when healing prayer was not well-known or practiced in the life of the church. Her experience in Jerusalem only served to confirm her belief that everywhere people suffer in similar ways and need God’s healing touch if they are to be made whole.
In 1977 Judith moved to Clearwater, Florida, and opened a private practice providing both prayer ministry and professional help to members of the Christian community in the Clearwater area. She saw many clients whose lives were dramatically transformed by prayer.
Judith first met Francis MacNutt briefly in Jerusalem in 1975. Two years later, providentially, they met again at a retreat center in New York. They married in 1980 and founded Christian Healing Ministries that same year (in Clearwater, Florida).
The blending of Francis and Judith’s spiritual gifts created a unique healing ministry. Their combined ministry of teaching and praying for physical and emotional healing has brought completeness to their individual ministries. Together and separately, they have been invited as key speakers at healing conferences hosted by many Christian churches. Their common goal has always been to help people become more aware of the love of Jesus Christ and the power and effectiveness of healing prayer.
Judith has dedicated her life to helping those bound by hurt, pain and trauma, that they may find freedom and wholeness through inner healing prayer. She is known and respected for her extraordinary gift of discernment combined with love and compassion. Judith is not only especially gifted in praying for inner healing, but she also gives many talks on the ministry of angels.
Following the births of their two children, Rachel and David, she (with Francis) co-authored Praying for Your Unborn Child.
A Special Note about Francis and Judith MacNutt and the Catholic Church
Francis MacNutt was perhaps the first Catholic priest to become actively involved in the ministry of praying with the sick for their healing. It all happened back in 1967. Francis, at that time, was a priest in the Dominican Order; he directed Merton House in St. Louis, MO, a center from which he traveled to speak. For example, he traveled with a team about ten times to Latin America to give conferences. Francis had been President of the Catholic Homiletic Society (1968) after having taught in the Dominican Seminary in Dubuque, IA (1958-1964). He learned about the sick being healed from friends, such as Rev. Tommy Tyson, and in 1967 Francis was baptized in the Holy Spirit. His experience with the Spirit occurred in the same year—but was separate from—that of the Catholics from Notre Dame and Ann Arbor who were baptized in the Spirit on the famous Duquesne weekend.
Francis soon became involved fulltime in giving conferences and talks on the Holy Spirit and on healing prayer, and he was asked by Ave Maria Press to write a book on healing prayer to be ready for the 35,000 people who came to the 1974 charismatic conference in the football stadium at Notre Dame. This book, Healing, is now regularly termed a “classic.” Francis’ involvement in the new charismatic renewal soon became a fulltime ministry and he traveled worldwide, forming teams to teach in places as varied as the Philippines, India and Costa Rica, speaking to hundreds of thousands of Catholics about the need for the power of the Spirit in their lives. In 1976 he became a founding director of the Association of Christian Therapists.
In 1975 he traveled to speak in Jerusalem where he met Judith Sewell who was a missionary there. In 1980, after consultation and prayer, they decided to marry. Immediately, Francis sought a dispensation (laicization) from Rome. In 1993 it was granted, and their marriage vows were renewed and blessed at Mass in the presence of the local bishop at the Catholic Retreat Center in Jacksonville, Florida. They have lived in Jacksonville since 1987 and are Catholics in good standing.
Moreover, in time, there has been a deep reconciliation with the Catholic Church, and they have been invited to Rome for Church sponsored colloquia, culminating in two international conferences in Jacksonville for Catholic charismatic leaders from all over the world (450 each time). These conferences were co-sponsored by Christian Healing Ministries and the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service (ICCRS), the office of the Vatican that serves the worldwide Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
In Florida, where Francis and Judith now direct Christian Healing Ministries, they enjoy an excellent relationship with their Catholic Bishop and with the leaders in the national and international Catholic Charismatic Renewal.