A Tweeting, Facebooking Nun Shares Her Media Mission

Katie Drews at Chicago Catholic News recently profiled Sister Helena Burns from the Daughters of St. Paul, an order of nuns focused on using media to nurture holiness.

The Daughters of St. Paul are an ideal fit for a woman who studied screenwriting in the Act One program, is currently working on a documentary about her order’s founder Rev. James Alberione, and is a frequent presence on Twitter and Facebook.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

When did you become a nun?

I met God when I was 15 and then he called me shortly after. He called me to be a sister and at first I really didn’t understand what that would entail. I entered the convent at 17.

How did that happen?

When I first felt called, I met God and it was a lightning bolt experience. And shortly after I felt called to be a sister. Deep in your heart it was like, ‘Be a nun.’ I was like, ‘No!’ I had my whole life planned. I wanted to be a veterinarian. So I had a struggle for two years. There were two wills struggling and there was a lot of uncertainty: Does God really want me to do this? All through this period, I was learning about Father Alberione. I was like, ‘Finally! A saint who understands us modern people!’ I love this man. I love him. He’s not afraid of modernity and technology. He loves it; he embraces it.

Is that why you chose the Daughters of St. Paul?

I looked at a lot of communities, but I thought what better way to bring God into peoples’ lives than through a book or song or magazine or film? You can very directly reach people on a deep level. It’s an art – we are using these arts to communicate with people.

. . . I always loved to write. I loved poetry and music. I saw what a huge influence media had – for the good and for the bad. I thought this was a really good fit for me. . . . The mother house was right in Boston where I lived so I went to visit and it was just so joyful. I wanted to make sure their smiles were real. I hung out with them for a day and realized this was genuine.

What do you hope people take away from the movie?

First of all we want them to know the life of this amazing media saint. And to let them know that it is possible to have sanctity go together with the latest technology. Not just for holy uses and pondering the word of God, but in our everyday lives. Sometimes we think media and technology have nothing to do with God, that it’s so cold. But we are living in new times today. Even our Christmases have become very technological, but it’s OK. God doesn’t change. Love doesn’t change. . . . We don’t have to think God lived somewhere in the Middle Ages and that we are barreling ahead without Him.

We also want them to learn what [Father Alberione’s] vision, strategy and spirituality for media is.

To read the whole interview, visit Chicago Catholic News.

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.


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