says the greatest miracle happens daily in the Eucharist
"The greatest miracle that happens every day is the Holy Eucharist," said Sister Briege McKenna, O.S.C. to the crowd gathered at Resurrection Catholic Church in June.
Sr. McKenna, an internationally known minister of healing, is well-known for her love of Christ's presence in the Eucharist and her belief in healing miracles.
Originally from Ireland, Sister McKenna now lives in Tampa, where she became intimately connected with the power of healing. At age 17, shortly after arriving in Tampa to teach, she became crippled by the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. She wore plaster casts and lived in constant pain. By age 23 she was taking 30 pills a day and receiving shots of cortisone.
But she didn't pray for healing or a miracle.
"People go through crises, but not all crises are bad," Sister McKenna said. "God sometimes stops you and says, 'What are you doing?'"
She admits, although she was a nun, even she began to doubt her faith. But one day, something happened. At the age of 24, she believes she was miraculously and instantaneously healed during the celebration of the Eucharist and some time later she received, in prayer, the gift of healing.
"I'd love to take the credit. I know Jesus did something special for you," her doctor proclaimed on a follow-up visit.
"What good is it to have a healthy body and a sick soul? Worries, anxieties, depression - Jesus showed me incurable illnesses can be healed. If you seek him, you will find him," Sister McKenna said.
In her first year of ministry, a man told her that he didn't believe in her gift of healing. Sister McKenna replied, "Believe in Jesus. That's all that matters."
She recounted a story of "Cindy". Driving home after a funeral, Sister McKenna realized the car behind was following her. When the nun's car finally came to a stop, a young woman jumped out of the other car and ran to Sister McKenna asking, "Do you know Sister Briege? Do you? I'm desperately looking for her. She has to heal me."
Cindy explained she had read "Miracles Do Happen" by Sister McKenna and hoped if she found her, the nun would heal her.
"If I can just touch Sister Briege, I know I'll be healed," Cindy said.
After introducing herself to Cindy, Sister McKenna explained that she was not the one who healed. She took Cindy to the chapel and said, "Now look, Cindy, there's Jesus."
But Cindy said it was just a symbol. Sister McKenna replied, "That's the same Jesus. He's not a 'thing'. He's a living person and we need to just touch Jesus with this expectant faith."
Cindy shared her life story with Sister McKenna, including the fact that her parents stopped taking the children to Mass after their first Communion.
Sister McKenna told her to find a priest who could give her absolution. Cindy pledged to attend Mass daily and receive Communion. She vowed also to pray for herself and her parents.
Two months later when Sister McKenna returned from speaking engagements, her fellow sisters told her a man was in the garden waiting for her.
When they met, he said, "I just came to be where my daughter was." He was Cindy's father and he wanted Sister McKenna to know that Cindy was free of cancer and the family had returned to the faith.
"God will have his way," Sister McKenna told the audience.
Many people have shared similar feelings after reading, "Miracles Do Happen." Andrea Corbett of Bronx, N.Y. called The Florida Catholic offices last month in a desperate search for Sr. McKenna. She had also read the book.
Corbett came across the book when searching for a gift for her brother. "The saleslady said, 'You will need this more than he.'"
After reading the book, Corbett said, "I had a dream. Jesus told me to call her. He said she can help me with a healing."
"You will see changes if you make the Eucharist the center of your life," Sister McKenna said.
When she speaks of the Eucharist, she also extols the dignity and holiness of the priestly ministry.
"The Mass is a shadow of Jesus standing in the person of the priest. Acting on that altar, the priest prays every day to the Holy Spirit and Jesus says every day, 'It is me. Believe in me,'" she said.
You may reach Sister McKenna by
Noreen Balanger contributed to this article.