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Still on a high note at age 83

Sister Millicent Pinto with her albums. Sister Millicent Pinto with her albums.
  • Francis Rodrigues, Mangalore
  • India
  • March 8, 2011
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To help soothe most people’s fears surrounding death, an octogenarian nun has released an album of devotional music in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

The hymns are really spiritual and inspirational,” said Father Joseph Martis, describing “Nimanyo Char Vosthu” (The Last Four Things), from Ursuline Franciscan Sister Millicent Pinto.

“They present the eschatological Christian doctrine on death, judgment, hell and heaven,” the rector of St Joseph’s inter-diocesan seminary in Mangalore, said.

Sister Pinto, 83, who wrote the lyrics and the music, said she made the album because “our recollections and retreats” rarely cover these “four elements” of the final journey.

The album, which is in the local Konkanni language, is Sister Pinto’s second album. She released her first, “Muje Thoin Jiye” (Live in Me) two years ago.

Her latest release includes 13 hymns interspersed with short reflections.

Sister Pinto said when she asked senior spiritual director, Father Norbert Fernandes, to edit the lyrics he asked her why she wanted to present such a depressing theme.

“But he edited the lyrics anyway and also prepared a booklet on the hymns at his own expense,” she said.

The elderly nun said she’s had no real formal training in music, but has had an interest in singing since childhood.  A priest and music teachers in primary school helped her to sing alto and soprano, she recalled.

Sister Pinto said she started composing hymns in 2009 when she began to take care of elderly nuns. Her superior suggested she conduct holy hours and prayer services for funerals.

“This was a turning point for me. I composed a couple of what I thought were relevant hymns,” Sister Pinto said, adding that her family paid for the production of her albums.

“Music is a talent given by God. It has to be used for the greater glory of God, whether you are young or old,” she says.
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