Francis joining fans in Panama

Rock and roll nuns’ biggest gig for Pope

05:46 AM January 18, 2019

SISTER ACT Filipino nun, vocalist and keyboard player Kathleen (seated, leftmost) joins other members of Siervas (Servants), a group of Catholic nuns who have been taking the “word of God” across Latin America to the rhythm of Latin rock and pop. The Peru-based nuns—who come from Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Japan, Peru and the Philippines—will perform for Pope Francis on World Youth Day in Panama next week. —AFP

LIMA—It may be rock and roll, but Twisted Sister they’re not, and sex and drugs are not an option for Siervas, the Peru-based Sisters of the Servants of the Plan of God.

With millions of YouTube views and hits on Spotify and iTunes, this group of young nun rockers will play one of their biggest gigs next week in Panama, with no less than Pope Francis in the audience when he presides over the World Youth Day celebrations, a gathering of global Catholic youth.


“We’re young sisters,” says 37-year-old guitarist Sister Ivonne of the band, which includes members from Latin American countries and Asia, including Chile, Japan, Ecuador, China, the Philippines and Costa Rica.

The band members include Sister Kathleen, 37, vocalist and keyboard player from the Philippines; Sister Jessica, clarinet player from China; Sister Teresa, 33, drum player from Chile; Sister Daniela, 25, percussionist from Costa Rica; Sister Ivonne, 37, composer, vocalist and guitar player from Chile; Dayana, 22, vocalist from Ecuador; and Camilla, 22, guitar player from Peru.


Int’l following

“This is another form of bringing our evangelical message, showing our strength—that’s to say, it’s also music that we like, it shows a lot about who we are,” Ivonne said.

Except for playing their brand of melodic rock in their traditional black and white habits, the Siervas (“servants” in Spanish), are indistinguishable from many of their peers in mainstream rock when it comes to building an international following with their catchy Christian songs.

With a half-dozen slickly produced videos on YouTube, Siervas communicates its message of “love, joy, hope” in polished music productions that have all the elements of a hit.  Their “Trust in God” music video, which features the nuns playing on a helipad atop a skyscraper in this city, went viral on YouTube with nearly two million views.

The message at the heart of their music? “We want to reach as many people as possible, and if the Pope is included in that, we’re more than satisfied,” said Ivonne, who pens much of the lyrics.

The 11-member band, which performs in Spanish, has previously played for crowds at Francis’ visits to Mexico and Peru.


“We’re not just working in music, but we take the word of God and his consolation to the prisons, to the disabled,” Sister Daniela said.


‘God’s plan’

On Tuesdays, when the nuns are back in Peru, they bring food to the homeless on the streets.

The group will have a gig at a women’s prison during the trip to Panama and also perform at a children’s cancer hospital and schools.

“We go to the women’s prisons to listen to them. All they ask is to be listened to and to know God has forgiven them,” Sister Camilla said.

The band has so far visited 11 countries, including the United States. It was formed in Lima in 2014 when the young musician nuns from different nationalities came together, said Sister Arisa, 24, a violinist from Japan.

“It was God’s plan that we come together,” she said.

Most awaited moment

After months of rehearsal, they held their first concert at the auditorium of the General Command of the Army, helping raise funds for a house for the order in Angola.

The band has undergone several changes to its lineup since 2014, as sisters leave to fulfill their missionary role.

“Until now we have not been able to talk to the Pope, we would love it if he approaches us,” Sister Ivonne said.

“I wouldn’t know what to say, I think I would faint,” she added.  —AFP

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