Indian nun captures hearts with her lens

She said she wants to “turn mere viewers into engaged participants … who share the hope that comes through Christ"

A camera in an Indian convent flashed ideas and dreams into Sister Lismy Parayil when she was just a new entrant into the Congregation of Mother of Carmel house in southern Kerala’s Thrissur district.

The young nun, who always had a fascination for technology, experimented with the lens, captured scenes and sights, and added music to give “life” to the images.

She later entered the world of social media.

“I planned to capture hearts with visual representation and replace ‘fake news’ with ‘Good News,’” said Sister Parayil.

She said she wanted to connect with the youth, adding that young people are often seeking meaning in life and are looking for guidance.

“If not provided (they) can be easily misled,” said the nun.

She said it is easier to catch the youth’s attention through visuals and music, “so I concentrated more on making short films and music videos that would impact their life.”

It all started in the convent.

“I used to make short videos using a camera,” she told LiCAS News in an interview. She said that during one retreat, she made a music video based on a song by Kester, to help the sisters in prayer.

“I used available objects, even the kitchen hearth, as props to give a visual depiction of the song about the fire of the Holy Spirit,” said Sister Parayil.

The positive reception of her video production spurred the nun to study and use different techniques.

She has already made more than 1,500 videos, including music albums, documentaries, short films, interviews, and live broadcasts.

Sister Lismy Parayil directs a documentary film during the jubilee celebration of the Sacred Heart School in Kerala, India. (Photo supplied)

During the canonization of two Indian saints — St Elias Chavara and St Euphrasia — Sister Parayil realized that there were no audio-visuals, so she prepared documentaries.

“I am now a full-fledged cinematographer, and I see it as a God-given skill to spread His word,” she said.

“My goal is to make feature films on saints,” she said, adding that “more than ever, we have the opportunity to do things on social media.”

“The challenge is to make this digital experience as connection-driven as possible,” said the nun.

She said she wants to “turn mere viewers into engaged participants … who share the hope that comes through Christ, especially the millennials who are mostly not interested in such conversation.”

Chrislin Chandy, provincial superior of the Congregation of Mother of Carmel, shared Sister Parayil’s passion for the use of social media for evangelization.

She said social media has often been looked upon as a medium that isolates an individual, but during the pandemic it proved to be “one of the best ways to bring us all together.”

Sister Lismy Parayil is feted by her sisters in the Congregation of Mother of Carmel following her recognition as a cinematographer nun. (Photo supplied)

Sister Chandy lauded Sister Parayil’s ability to connect with the digital audience, saying it “requires a ton of creativity.”

In one of her video series titled “Fragrance of Goodness,” Sister Parayil focused on the life and struggle of a 94-year-old woman who is a construction worker — how she carries water and sacks of cement with her bent frame, yet with a smile.

In another video, a person with disability is shown struggling but not giving up in a bid to earn a living.

“All her works are achieved single-handedly and with limited resources,” said Sister Chandy, adding that the videos “speak much” of life.

“A few captivating photos tend to speak more than a thousand words put together,” said the congregation’s superior, adding that she is “very happy” of her sister’s achievement and her work to bring out truth and light “through little things in such a beautiful way.”

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