Amazing stories of conversion abound. It’s always a joy to read a book that puts these stories to paper for many to read. Of Men and Mary: How Six Men Won the Greatest Battle of Their Lives is one such book. Christine Watkins details the very different stories of these six men that all have a common denominator to them…..Mother Mary.
In brief here are a few of the stories you will encounter:
Father Michael Lightner was a standout football player in high school who dreamed of playing pro-football. He was so good he rode the wave of a full scholarship into college. While there Church was the last thing on his mind as he got caught up in the worldly pursuits of many college kids. A trip to Medjugorje changed his trajectory…slowly. Eventually, Father began to have a constant tugging to pursue the priesthood.
Father Rick Wendell found himself in the hospital emergency after an accident on a construction site left him with a substantial cut on the face. While there he was stitched up without incident and sent on his ways. A few hours later he would be back ….but this time he was dead. Experiencing an out-of-body episode he miraculously came back to life. Father Rick dived into the Bible upon his release from the hospital. A change of events culminated in his being in Medjugorje as well. With the prodding and help of a Bishop Father would find himself ordained to the priesthood as well.
Jim Jennings is perhaps the most unbelievable story in the book. Jim was a convicted murderer in prison. He stumbles upon the Blessed Mother while randomly turning on a public broadcasting TV show in prison. He was intrigued and proceeded to get his hands on whatever material he could find. Jim became so profoundly committed to Mary he eventually transformed an entire prison into following the Blessed Mother. Today Jim is a speaker who talks of his faith journey.
The stories of each of the six men in this book bring readers to pause and force us to consider our own lives. All of us fall. All of us struggle. We have self-doubt. There are times we question whether we have fallen short of the mark. No matter where we are in life this is the case. The stories of these six men are proof that no matter how lost we feel, how bad we screw up, no matter how much the world may seem against us….we can persevere when we place our hope in Jesus through the intercession of his Mother Mary.
Each of the six stories contains one common thread if you have not picked up on it by now — the ongoing alleged apparitions of Mary in Medjugorje. Christine includes two appendixes in the back of the book. One explains a brief history of the apparitions and the other is the Churches stance on these events. As one may guess the Church takes such events very seriously. Church leaders must be particularly careful in this case when it comes to an ongoing series of events. Time will tell the ultimate decision on Medjugorje, but one cannot deny the positive effects it held on the men in this book and countless others.