The Life of a Nun and Veteran

By Katie Beckmann Mahon, Communications Manager


This week’s “Embracing Faith” article will focus on Embracing Faith through Inspiration.

Embracing Faith Through Inspiration

“In the same way, let your light shine before others,

that they may see your good deeds and glorify God in heaven.”

-Matthew 5:16

On Thursday, November 11th, the United States will observe Veterans Day and honor all of the brave women and men who have served our country.

One of those admirable veterans that we will celebrate is also a Racine Dominican Sister who served in the Vietnam War.

Sr. Linda McClenahan, OP, first joined the military in 1967 when she enlisted in the United States Army’s Women’s Army Corps. During her time in the military, she worked her way up in the ranks to become a Sergeant, E-5 and then served in the U.S. Army Strategic Communications Command. (1)

Even with her success in the military, Sr. Linda had always intended on pursuing a vocation after her time in the service. Still, during the Vietnam War, there were times when she struggled with her faith and questioned her vocation. (1)

After being honorably discharged, Sr. Linda put off her vocation and would study business and psychology at Antioch College, then pursue a career in corporate communications. (1)

Eventually, Sr. Linda found her way back to her religious life as she became a Racine Dominican Sister and received the nickname, “Sister Sarge.” After becoming a Women Religious, Sr. Linda ministered as a trauma counselor, working with patients who primarily have had post-traumatic stress disorder, including many veterans. (1)

Sr. Linda would then receive a master’s degree in guidance and counseling, which proved to be beneficial in her ministry as many of her patients were also dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. (1)

As a religious sister, veteran, and trauma counselor, Sr. Linda’s recently reached a milestone in August 2020, as she celebrated her Jubilee milestone of 25 years of religious life. (2)

When discussing her inspiring story in a video shared by the Racine Dominicans, Sr. Linda shared, “It took me a number of years to find my way back and to recognize that God was present but not in the way I was expecting.”


She went on to add, “I was looking for God in a specific box, and when I went back and really reviewed the situation and figured it out, I realized that God was there but not in the box. God was over here, and what that did for me, I was able to recognize God’s presence.” (2)