“I’m really excited to go to the Garden of Gethsemane just because every time I’m going through a hard time or I’m confused or nervous about something God’s asking me to do—which, with my ministry, is a lot of the time—I always try to enter into that place,”
By Nora Kenney
Dana Catherine is a singer, songwriter, and youth speaker from North Carolina who will join Verso Ministry’s upcoming trip to the Holy Land, providing musical accompaniment and pastoral support. Her career has taken her on national tours, sharing her faith and music with young crowds around the country. The themes she emphasizes in her ministry include trusting the Lord, cultivating childlike surrender, and building positive self-worth through faith.
“I got into this, really, because God is pretty crazy,” she said.
She was always writing songs while growing up in a devout Catholic family, she said, but it wasn’t until high school that she learned to play the guitar, and it wasn’t until college that her songs became religious.
“When I ended up going to college a few years ago here in North Carolina it was just kind of tough,” Dana said. “It was a public school and the whole culture was just very hedonistic and cliché college stuff, and it just brought me so much closer to God and my Catholic faith. I was always strong in my faith but especially then is when I just had to really hold on to God and grow much closer to Him. And throughout that time I started writing basically all my songs about God, so it became not just pop songs but now they were Christian songs.”
During her senior year in college, after Dana began writing Christian music, something unexpected happened: she received what she describes as a “miraculous opportunity” to produce an album of her songs. From there, she became a youth minister, which strengthened her speaking skills, and participated in the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC), where she met her current record label.
It wasn’t until the spring of 2017, however, in Adoration, that Dana felt called to leave Raleigh and travel the country sharing talks and music with high school and college students at conferences and retreats.
“Because of the path God has led me on throughout college and up until now, I speak a lot about having a spirit of total surrender to God and truly trusting him with childlike faith—just kind of like St. Therese, that type of spirituality,” Dana explained. “And then I also talk a lot about—and it may sound cheesy—self-worth and finding our identify in the Lord. It’s hard to really trust Him or to surrender our lives to Him if we don’t know who we are in Him.”
Dana said that even though her tours are geared towards youth, she receives powerful reactions from fans of all ages. Her song “I Will Follow”—which aligns well with the themes she emphasizes, trust and surrender—resonates especially powerfully with listeners.
“I always sing that song when I’m talking about anything with trust and surrender and my journey to where I am today,” Dana said, explaining that the song seems to touch people who are at crossroads in life. “People always say that that song, tied in with what I’m talking about, just really hits them … I’m so big on telling people that we have to create a space in our lives for God to show up and to show that He’ll provide for us and take care of us.”
Her writing, she says, is inspired by her relationship with the Lord, which she cultivates daily.
“One thing I’ve realized is if I’m not connecting with God daily, if I’m not in that active relationship with Him, then my songwriting is just almost zero,” Dana said. “I can’t song-write if I’m not praying—I learned that a long time ago—which makes sense since what is there to talk about if I’m not talking to God in the first place?”
Her daily faith practices involve spending at least 30 minutes reflecting on the daily readings through the help of Father John Bartunek’s The Better Part as well as spontaneous prayer, an active intention to stay in conversation with God throughout the day, and attending Adoration.
On the upcoming trip to the Holy Land, Dana will be able to visit the places she’s read and prayed about throughout her life, including Garden of Gethsemane.
“I’m really excited to go to the Garden of Gethsemane just because every time I’m going through a hard time or I’m confused or nervous about something God’s asking me to do—which, with my ministry, is a lot of the time—I always try to enter into that place,” she said. “When Jesus was about to be taken away for his Passion, He was super scared! I’ve always felt very close to that mystery of the Rosary and I think it’s just going to be astounding to be there where he was actually kneeling and praying. I can’t even imagine.”
Dana said she’s also excited to immerse herself in the landscape and absorb the atmosphere—practices which align with her approach to song-writing, inspiration, and creativity.
“I write songs based on a type of feeling I have or the type of atmosphere I want to create for a song,” Dana explained. “So it’s not just like a message that I start with for a song, or a certain line that I start with. It’s creating a feeling. And so all of these different places are going to give me different feelings and they have different atmospheres, so I think the atmosphere of the Holy Land and everything I’m going to experience is going to be amazing for song-writing, for sure.”
Dana said she is looking forward to playing the music for daily Mass during the pilgrimage, and also plans to perform a concert during the trip. She’s also looking forward to asking for the Blessed Mother’s intercession during the trip.
“I’ll definitely ask for [Mary’s] intercession a lot during this trip because obviously these are the places where she’s been and she walked on this road with Jesus in the exact places where we’re going to be,” Dana said.
She encourages anyone going through a transition period in their life to encourage joining the trip: “People that are in a transition right now, especially young people who are in a transition, and who are experiencing chaos in their life, and maybe don’t know what’s up next, and are feeling anxious—I think this would the perfect thing for them. [It’s a chance to] step outside of our lives, go to the Holy Land, reconnect with Jesus in more of a deeper way and get to know Him much more and get to know who are in Him. And then you can go back to normal life with a renewed sense of the purpose and the meaning of our lives in God.”
For more information from Dana Catherine on her journey with music and the Catholic faith visit her website, here.
Also, please consider joining for his upcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land, May 11-20, 2020. For more information and to register, click the link below!