On May 10, 2016, senior Kateri Determan stood like a Degas sculpture before the student body to crown a wreath of flowers atop a statue of Mary.
Every year, the senior class selects the student they believe to lead a life most like Mary to be the May Queen. The students of the senior class were not the only people to see the presence of Mary in Determan. Hearts of Marian parent volunteers Mrs. Susan Heim, Mrs. Christine Vosik, and Mrs. Katie Stahlnecker also attested to Determan’s Mary-like qualities.
“Kateri has such a humble presence like Mary but walks firmly and is very strong in God’s plan for her life. She is a perfect person to receive the Crown of Mary,” Heim said.
“Kateri embodies all of the qualities of Mary. She is a shining example of what it means to be thoughtful, selfless, gentle, modest and humble,” Vosik said.
“Like Mary, Kateri is a model of holiness, purity, and faith. She is most deserving of this high honor,” Stahlnecker said.
Determan’s elegance and poise mask her inner strength. She is involved with Hearts of Marian and Decade Darlings, where Heim, Vosik, and Stahlnecker call her the “prayer warrior.” Determan has an exceptional ability to remember the intentions of her numerous peers, neighbors, and family members and offer them up to God. She compassionately helps them carry their worries, illnesses, diseases, and concerns. Determan also has the humility to ask for prayers from her peers. “She is very good at reaching out to her faith community for prayer when she needs us! She has such trust,” Heim said.
When asked about her faith life, Determan took a deep breath and asked how long this article could be. On the surface, it seems that Determan leads a pretty normal faith life: she goes to church every week, she prays before meals, and she does her best to talk to God throughout the day. Nevertheless, the Determan sisters approach their faith differently than other Catholics.
“We aren’t as you could say ‘faith sharing’ kind of people; it’s more of a personal commitment and relationship with God. We both have our respective faith lives and relationships,” sophomore Maria Determan said.
Those who know the Determan girls through their faith-based activities, like Hearts of Marian, know the depth and strength of their faith.
At “Hearts,” as Kateri calls it, the members take to their journals after lifting up their intentions to God, prayerfully reflecting on Scripture passages, and listening to religious songs. Usually, Heim, Vosik, and Stahlnecker give the girls a prompt to open up the conversation with God. After the journaling period, the girls have the option to share what they wrote.
Kateri’s journal entries truly reveal her relationship with God. “I have heard a voice of God before. It was not so much a voice as much as a thought or phrase that pops in suddenly. I knew it wasn’t my voice, but God’s,” Kateri said on her journaling.
Kateri’s humility toward uncanny occurrences such as these is an admira- ble aspect of her faith. “It just happens,” Kateri said about sharing her faith. She does not force her beliefs onto every person she encounters. Rather, she expresses her faith through a text that states “God’s Not Dead,” through her service at Camp Fun and Faith, or through one of her warm hugs.
When Kateri’s name was announced over the intercom for May Queen, audible exclamations of joy infiltrated senior hallway. This was a confirmation of the honor bestowed on her.
“Kateri is a ray of God’s light to this world,” Stahlnecker said at the end of her interview. She is an inspiration who brings smiles to people’s faces. Kateri’s grace and beliefs serve as models for the entire Marian community, and she is truly worthy of this honor.
Next year, Kateri will continue her journey of faith at Benedictine College.