On the weekend of December 1, the Daughters of St. Paul choir made a stop in Boston for two nearly sold-out concerts, kicking off their annual tour where the “singing nuns” shared Christmas joy through lively song, dance, and prayer.
A family tradition for many, the concert put on by the “Media Nuns” is in its twenty-fourth year and has been to sixteen cities. This Christmas season their show, Glorious Night, will take the traveling sisters to seven cities with ten shows.
In Boston alone, over 1,200 people were able to witness their talent. Historically, the Boston show was located in the chapel of the motherhouse in Jamaica Plain, and in recent years, had been packed to the point of standing-room-only. To alleviate space concerns, the sisters relocated the show this year to Fontbonne Academy’s auditorium in Milton. Even though the new venue had double the capacity, the show was nearly sold out again.
The concert itself consisted of a choir of ten singing, dancing, and radiant nuns, who performed a variety of traditional hymns as well as modern, more secular Christmas music. Choir members shared personal stories between songs and took turns sharing their voices as soloists or their talent as instrumentalists on the guitar, harp, and even bongos. The audience members were given finger flashlights to wave along to the beat of the music, and at Fontbonne during the Sunday afternoon matinee, the audience was clapping and singing along by the very first song. With sparkly scarves and light up costumes on the sisters, as well as high-tech graphics, the performance was nothing short of engaging and lively.
“Through the concerts, we get to see people we wouldn’t otherwise see, and they get an inside look into our community life,” shared Sr. Chelsea Bethany Davis, FSP (@SrBethanyFSP), a well-loved #MediaNun on social media. Sr. Bethany can be found behind the soundboard for the concerts, where she has served since her first profession in 2015. “We are able to meet a lot of people that we would not meet otherwise, like people who wouldn't have walked into our book centers, be at youth events we’re at, or go to parishes we visit. The concerts aren’t like anything you've heard before, and it’s a very easy thing to invite people to.” From there, attendees are able to hear the witness and testimonies of the sisters, and particularly for young women discerning, they can see the sisters’ joy and relate to their stories. With audiences filled with people in different places on their faith journeys, families with children, and even many religious sisters from other orders, the welcoming Daughters of St. Paul, their uplifting performance, and the accompanying Pauline book sale, all stand as an opportunity for joy-filled evangelization.
When speaking about the sisters’ hope for the concert, Sr. Bethany explained, “Christmas is so commercialized now, and what we try to do is bring Jesus into the season without being like ‘Now we're going to pray for two hours!’ Instead, we’re going to sing ‘Jingle Bells,’ but we’re also going to sing ‘Silent Night.’ We are going to invite you to pray, but then we’re going to sing ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.’” The sisters place an emphasis on the integration of fun and prayer, as seen by the playful jokes between songs or the light-up palm tree props, but also in the sisters’ prayers for each audience member before, during, and after the concerts. “We hope you can take this spirit of integration, prayer, and joy and bring it out to the world, to be that light in the world,” Sr. Bethany passionately expressed. “We really hope the audience is touched by the Lord. This is the birth of Christ, He came to save us–– that’s so incredible, and we can rejoice in that whether we’re rockin’ around the Christmas tree or standing around the manger.”