From atheist with guns at West Point to a nun catechizing young people with spirituality videos

Anna Marie McGuan entered the Institute for the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Michigan, a modernized refounding of the Sisters of Mercy. In 2011 she professed her perpetual vows. He studied at the University of Santa Croce in Rome, also at the Pontifical Biblical Instituteserved for a time in Knoxville as director of Christian formation and since 2020 he is in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a catechist, often working with youth and also with spiritual formation videos that have helped many during the pandemic.

None of all this I could have foreseen as a child or in her early youth, when she considered herself an atheist.

At 7 or 8 years old, it was very clear to me that I wanted to be an army officer and study at West Point, the elite military academy. “She had seen it on a postcard and it intrigued me,” she recalls.

Although he was from a Catholic family, at the age of 10 he stopped believing in God completely. “hated the church and I didn’t want anything to do with her,” he says emphatically.

At West Point, the demanding military academy

When he finished high school, he actually managed to get into West Point, the famous military officers’ academy. “Military training was something totally new to me. You get hammered, it’s expected. AndYou’re in an elite academy, but everyone there is elite, so you’re not special, and that’s how you learn to be a good soldier,” he explains.

West Point Academy officers, young men and women.

Officers at West Point Military Academy. But Anna Marie would end up joining an army much more powerful and benign than that of any country.

“It was a good year in many ways, and a very difficult year as well. Little by little, but surely, I realized that That thing I wanted to dedicate my entire life to was not what I was supposed to do with my life. He did not believe in God. It was a very dark time,” she recalls.

Serious questions were asked. What to do with his life, really?

“The mundane answer is ‘whatever makes you happy, enjoy the pleasures’. But something in me rebelled against it, I wanted to commit to something bigger than myself. In fact, that’s what got me into the military academy.”

She felt the inner conviction that she, and everyone else, is in the world for a reason. She didn’t know why. And it was tormenting, because she had done things that were supposed to fill her but didn’t.

Alone in the church, sitting in the last pew

Anne Marie is today an enthusiast that churches are open. she believes that his life was put on track, perhaps even saved, because he was able to enter an open temple for a whileeven when he declared not to believe in God.

It was a Friday night. She was driving a car, going around. She saw a church with a parking space. She didn’t know her. He stopped the car, parked and went to the door, which was open. “I sat on the back bench, way back, as far from the tabernacle as he could get… he had had a Catholic background, right?”

He sat down, looked at the tabernacle and prayed like this: “I don’t know if you’re there, but if you are, God, I’d like to know what to do with my life. I am listening, perhaps for the first time in my life. Please, I need to talk to someone.”

Nothing seemed to happen at the time. She He got ready to leave, but saw a light on in the parish office. He approached and found a priest. He was amazed to see that he, he knew him! She had seen him 7 years earlier, when he was still going to church with his parents.

He remembered that he had been in his parish at a talk for young people and that he had said: “I want you to know that God loves you, I love you, and we want you to come to mass.” (Some time later the priest would explain to Anna Marie that that homily seven years earlier had cost him a lot to prepare and was the one that had given him the most fear).

Anna Marie remembered that and said to the priest:

– Father, seven years ago you gave a homily… If you were serious, I’m here now and I need to talk to you.

Anna Marie assured him that she would ask him just three questions and then leave him alone:

– God exists, do we know?
– The Eucharist, the presence of God in it, is it real?
– How do you pray?

Today she believes that it was the Holy Spirit who raised those sudden questions in her. And in the background I had a concern:how to live in such a way that you produce the best, the truest, and share it with the most people?

The priest responded in some detail. Yes, God exists, we know it, faith is reasonable and the ways of Saint Thomas are sensible and logical. We know that Christ existed, he preached him and he is trustworthy. Y He gave the girl a book to start praying: The Russian Pilgrim. She even told him, “I think you might have a religious vocation.” She thought: “no, no way.”

The vocation: from “no way” to crush

From there, they began to see each other every two weeks and he became their spiritual director. Why did she agree to continue talking again? “I guess I wanted answers to the most important questions, and I hadn’t found them satisfactory anywhere else,” she explained.

The idea of ​​a “religious vocation” came back to him over and over again. Now that she was confessing, praying, receiving Communion, Grace acted on her powerfully, her entire interior life was different. Could it be true that she had a religious vocation?

Your spiritual director he gave her a paper with the addresses of 3 convents to explore. But she tore up the paper and was left with only the name of the first and said to God, “I’m giving you just one chance.”

Anna Marie already as a religious of the Sisters of Mercy

This is how he visited the Sisters of Mercy a Friday, and “on Saturday I was quite convinced and on Sunday it was very clear. It was the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, it couldn’t be more perfect”. Thus he entered the community.

He tells his story especially to young people, so that no one closes the door to God, nor to a possible consecrated vocation and generous intimacy with God.

Sister Anna Marie has recounted her testimony in the website of your congregation and in the Scottish Catholic.

From atheist with guns at West Point to a nun catechizing young people with spirituality videos