Auburn graduate, former St. Mary teacher who co-starred in viral video takes step toward religious life
By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
MOBILE – “K-Money” may soon be “Sister Katelynn.”
Auburn University graduate and former St. Mary Catholic School teacher, Katelynn Hanna, took the first major step toward religious life in July when she entered the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows convent in Moreauville, La.
She’s likely the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows’ first viral YouTube star.
Hanna, a native of Alpharetta, Ga., earned online fame when she and Wesley Nelson created a comical rap video titled “(I’m so) Catholic” while students at Auburn in 2014. “K-Money” and “Well-Z’s” video was a parody of Australian rapper Iggy Azalea’s “(I’m so) Fancy” and it turned out to be a hit.
The video made the rounds on social media sites, was shared by Catholic blogs including Catholic Company, and at last count had more than 172,000 views on YouTube.
But Hanna will be a one-hit wonder because she’s got more important work to do.
“Right after I graduated (from Auburn in 2014) I went to New Jersey to visit the Salesian Sisters (of St. John Bosco) and I knew at that point I felt called to religious life, but it wasn’t until this past school year that I felt the tug of being a little bit restless … and having the desire to know more about God,” Hanna said.
After Auburn and prior to entering the convent, Hanna spent the last three years at St. Mary, primarily as middle school math teacher, as well as a youth minister.
But few were surprised when she set her sights on religious life.
“She has a servant’s heart and does that with a lot of joy,” said Archdiocese of Mobile Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Adam Ganucheau. “She almost has that aura of holiness and sanctity, so that’s why I wasn’t surprised she was entering religious life.”
The joy is noticeable in the video, which was shot at Auburn’s St. Michael Parish in December 2014.
Hanna said Nelson asked her to sing “(I’m so) Catholic with him at a parish open-mic night appropriately titled “Open St. Mike Night.”
The song, which includes such lyrics as “Hit the chapel; Lectino Divina; Pray those Vespers; Chant that Salve Regina,” was a hit with their friends and the duo was encouraged to produce a video.
“We never expected it to get the response it got at all,” Hanna said. “It was crazy.”
A few months after the video, “K-Money” and “Well-Z” got a gig singing it at the 2015 Archdiocesan Catholic Youth Conference.
“I laughed, I still laugh. They’re not taking it too seriously, so you don’t take it too seriously,” Ganucheau said. “A viral video about our faith makes the Church accessible. I don’t know how you can watch the video and not smile or laugh and just enjoy it for a couple minutes.”
Hanna then took her joy to St. Mary Parish and Catholic School. She said she put the call to religious life aside because she was “mainly focused on having a job and that transition from college to adult life, which is so hard. I was focused on making sure I paid my bills and made friends.”
But Hanna reinvestigated that call during the 2017-18 school year.
Hanna said she searched online for various orders and took a sort of matchmaking quiz on the Council of Major Superiors of Women’s Religious’ website, Cmswr.org.
Hanna said she wanted be in the south as well as a teaching order, and came across the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose motherhouse is in Shreveport, La.
“How close they are to God is amazing, so amazing,” Hanna said.
Hanna made initial contact via email, made four visits to the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows since December 2017 and was officially accepted in June. She was one of three who entered last month. According to Hanna, there are about 25 Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows in the U.S., mostly in Louisiana.
She lives in the convent and will teach during the initial two-year postulancy stage.
After the postulancy, she’ll enter the novitiate stage in Shreveport where she’ll give away her possessions and spend two years with strong spiritual direction.
Then she will take temporary vows, become Sister Katelynn and likely move to another community and teach.
“It is daunting, but there’s also a big freedom with giving it all away,” Hanna said. “It is going to be me relying on the Lord for everything, which is exciting to grow in a relationship there.”
It was difficult to leave St. Mary Parish.
“I really loved working at St. Mary,” Hanna said. “The families are great, the kids are great. I will miss working at St. Mary’s so much.”
While Hanna has left the archdiocese, Ganucheau said she can be an invaluable role model for women who feel any calling toward religious life.
“For young female girls to have a model like that — you can be a joyful person, you can be a social person while still discerning religious life and being a single person, while ministering in the church or teaching — that is an invaluable witness,” Ganucheau said. “It’s easier to say yes when you can point to a witness or model like Katelynn who has said ‘yes’ and has said ‘yes’ with joy.”
And for anyone who is considering religious life, Hanna recommended “to have good set of friends that can either pray for you or encourage you to go visit different places. And (don’t) be afraid to reach out to communities. Sometimes that’s the hardest part, writing that email.”