Sister Briege McKenna is blessed with many gifts but I was struck by a prophecy she received from the Lord in 1971 concerning the priesthood and the laity - she brought these to her bishop for discernment. She says God is purifying the Church and that martyrdom is a possibility but the seeds of springtime have been sown and will bear fruit: she actually says that Pope Benedict is a great Pope who is leading us into a new springtime Sister Briege: It actually began not long after my own physical healing. I came to Florida in 1971 as a young nun. I’d grown up in a very devout Catholic culture, and we’d been taught never to criticize priests. I remember my father telling us stories about how we should honor them. And we should, of course, but many of us were doing it in the wrong way, putting them up on a pedestal. Well, in 1971, that was changing, and I found myself, like many, becoming quite critical of priests. One day, I went into the chapel and asked God, “What’s wrong with these priests?” He then revealed two things to me. First, he showed me that a tremendous crisis was coming, a crisis that would lead to a great famine of the Word of God, and that Catholics would turn away from the faith. OSV: And the second thing? Sister Briege: The Lord told me to wash the feet of priests. He showed me Jesus weeping and said: “The time is coming when many bishops and priests will care more about the business of the world than about my wisdom. They will become ashamed of me. I want you to tell them to magnify me.” I was horrified. But I wrote it all down and talked to my bishop. Shortly afterward, I got an overwhelming love for the priesthood, a real sense of what the Sacrament of Holy Orders was. Then God brought Vincentian Father Kevin Scallon and I together. My mother general and his father general gave us their blessing and sent us out to work together. And ever since we’ve been going wherever we’re invited to help priests rediscover the spirit of their priesthood. OSV: Some of the priests with whom you work are priests who have fallen into serious sin. As you’ve gotten to know these priests, what have you discovered about the circumstances that led them to where they are now? Sister Briege: They didn’t get there overnight. Their struggles are generally the fruit of a long and slow neglect of the spiritual life. We all have an inner and an outer life. That inner life starts at baptism, and, in this world, it’s constantly under attack. So we have to protect it. How do we do that? We make our home in Jesus. We nourish it though prayer, sacraments and living the life we’ve promised Jesus to live. If a priest isn’t doing that, if he’s not giving over every area of his life to Jesus, he neglects the inner life, and divorce comes. He begins to care only for his outer life. And he falls. The priesthood is God’s gift. And any gift that is not cherished, that is not received and loved and cared for, dies. A priest can’t lose the gift of his priesthood, but he can lose the love that animates it. And that can cost him everything. SV: From what you’ve seen with the priests with whom you work, do you believe better days are ahead? Sister Briege: I do. God is rectifying what’s happened. He’s cleansing the Church. And we’ve been so blessed to have such holy popes in our lifetime. It hasn’t always been like this. But the Church survived, and now we have a great pope leading us into a new springtime. Before we see the fruit, there has to be purification, and the ground has to be fertilized. But the springtime is coming. The Church has been humiliated, and that’s good. The prestige of the priesthood is no longer an earthly one. We’re looking more closely at who’s forming our priests and how. Some bishops and priests are finding their voices again. They’re less afraid of speaking with authority. We need more of that, though. All bishops and priests must be willing to speak out and defend truth and the Church’s moral teachings. They must not be afraid to confront sin, even if it means martyrdom.