Saint Kateri Tekakwitha stood motionless in the St. Mary Gymnasium on Friday morning, hands folded together in a prayerful, saintly pose. She remained still and motionless, until one pushed a green button on her right hand.
She then came to life, telling her story. Persecuted for her beliefs, the member of the Mohawk tribe, had to overcome the leadership of her tribe which did not like Christians. Born in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, on the south side of the Mohawk River, she contracted smallpox in an epidemic; her family died and her face was scarred. She converted to Roman Catholicism at age 19, when she was renamed Kateri, baptized in honor of Saint Catherine of Siena. Refusing to marry, she left her village and moved for the remaining five years of her life to the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal in New France, now Canada.
Friday the Lily of the Mohawks was brought to life by Deserae Segura, a fifth-grader at St. Mary Catholic School as part of the sixth annual Saints Wax Museum.
"She reminds me of myself, I sometimes feel like I am put in that situation," Segura said.
In all, there were 20 students who researched saints for the day. Each was in costume, most made Saint Cards. Some received extra credit for decorating pumpkins to go with their presentation.
Other saints in the gym Nov. 3 included Our Lady Of Guadalupe, St. John Newman and a host of others. Father Emil Kapaun of Pilsen, who is in the final stages of being named a saint by the Catholic Church, was also in the gymnasium.
Kindergarten through fourth-grade students were able to attend during three different sessions during school to learn about each of the 20 saints.
"They researched everything under my guidance at school. This is the first paper they have really written and the first biographies they have really written," said Majel Breckunitch, fifth grade teacher at St. Mary.
The learning in the classroom extends beyond learning about Catholic saints. Speeches are written and memorized, computers are used for the typing of reports and the creation of "Saint Cards" to be given during the museum event.
"I incorporate a lot of (educational) benchmarks," Breckunitch said. "Our diocese is one of the few in the nation that has a religion curriculum with benchmarks written up. Saints are a huge part of that. There are many parts to it. ... this covers a lot of those."