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Peru’s pop-star nuns juggle social ministry, musical passion

new 11 Rockin NunsMembers of the pop band Siervas pose for a photo Jan. 22 in their music room in Lima, Peru. The 12 women, who are members of the Servants of the Plan of God, have taken their inspirational music to other countries but also do social service work in Peru. (CNS photo/courtesy Lukas Isaac)

February 23, 2017
Jane Chambers
Catholic News Service

LIMA, Peru – For the 12 women religious in the pop band Siervas – The Servants in English – it’s a delicate balance of juggling their social ministry and their musical passion.

“Monday and Friday afternoons are for group rehearsals and most of the nuns practice every day as well. But we also visit three different jails one morning a week, work in schools, with the homeless and people with physical handicaps, as well as with a children’s home for young people who have parents in prison or who can’t look after them,” Sister Monica, a Peruvian, told Catholic News Service.

That social ministry is what attracted many of the sisters to the order.

“Many of the nuns come to us through the social work we do,” Sister Monica explained. “They realize how much they love helping people and how happy it makes them. We do things like provide clothes and shoes for the people living high up in the Andes where they can sometimes literally freeze to death. They (potential sisters) find God through volunteering and want to get involved more deeply and become nuns. That is what happened to me.”

The group’s hit single “Confia en Dios” (“Trust in God”) introduced Siervas to an international audience and led to an invitation to sing before a February 2016 Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in front of an audience of 250,000.

Members come from several countries, including Japan, Philippines and, of course, Peru, and a variety of musical backgrounds. The group recently released its second CD, “Hoy Despierto” (“Wake up Today”).

They started playing as a way to express their faith and love of God about three years ago. Sister Andrea, from Argentina, writes the lyrics and Sister Yvonne, from Chile, composes the melody. Once they have a rough version, the other sisters provide feedback and make small changes.

Many people are drawn to the sisters because of their music. A donation from an anonymous donor funded a music video and the second CD.

Sister Monica laughed at the suggestion that the group had gone “rock ‘n’ roll” because of the video, which was filmed atop a helipad overlooking Lima. All of the sisters were dressed in religious habits, which they wear every day and see as an important symbol of their faith.

“We weren’t always nuns,” she said. “We were brought up in the 21st century as well, listening to different types of music and using Facebook and YouTube. Why shouldn’t music come from God in a pop format?”

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