Marines vs. the Sisters of Mary

Joe Leatherman, drummer extraordinaire, soon-to-be Marine.

Members of the Sisters of Mary

A member of the Sisters of Mary

Joe Leatherman, the drummer for Anchor’s worship team for the past several years, left for San Diego on Sunday, March 4. He enlisted in the Marines last summer, and now it was time to head off to boot camp. I imagine that right about now, he’s not having a particularly fun time. Tired and hungry and yelled at. But it’ll be a life-changing experience for Joe. He’ll do great.

Several months ago, I asked Joe, “Why did you pick the Marines, as opposed to another branch?”

He said, “Because they’re the best.”

Anchor gave up its best young man for the Marines. It’s fitting, and we’re very proud.

Yesterday, I was researching the Sisters of Mary, a Dominican order of nuns founded just 15 years ago. A United Brethren church here in Huntington, Ind., where I work, bought the local St. Felix Friary back in 1980, and that was their church building for 20 years. But they decided to move out a couple years ago, and a foundation run by a Catholic businessman bought the monastery. He poured over $1 million into renovating it. I wrote about it on our denominational news site.

And now, the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, will be locating 40 novices there.

To become a nun in the Sisters of Mary, you go through an eight-year process before saying your vows. During that time, you earn a degree in education (if you don’t already have one), because the Sisters of Mary focus on teaching. They go all over the country teaching in Catholic schools, and they are in demand. But they are also committed to evangelism, to proclaiming Christ wherever are.

On their website, I read the testimonies of 14 nuns. It was very moving. They told about their spiritual journey, using much the same lingo that an evangelical would use–God’s call on their life, a personal relationship with Jesus, wanting to be totally committed to his will, giving yourself completely to Christ, etc. These women have a true heart for God.

In taking their vows, they commit themselves to povery, chastity, and obedience. These are quality people–most of them just young women–and they have totally sold out to their Savior. No distractions. No men, no material pursuits, no ambitions beyond what Christ wants for them.

When Joe Leatherman headed off to bootcamp, he took practically nothing with him–just the clothes he was wearing, and the hair on his head, which the Marines would soon take away. For six weeks, he would be forced into poverty, chastity, and obedience. Those weeks would train him to be a great soldier, the best, a killing machine. But just six weeks.

Then here are these Sisters of Mary. Eight years of preparation. A life of single-minded, total devotion to God. These are the people teaching young children in schools across the country.

If I’m in a scrape, I’d like a Marine beside me. Joe.

But when it comes to lots of things that really matter, I think these nuns are probably a whole lot tougher.

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