by Father Mark Goldasich
Hey, are you a fan of Italy’s “The Voice”?
Yeah, me neither. Since I never watch “The Voice” here in the States, it’s no wonder that I didn’t even know that Italy had a similar show. All of that changed about 10 days ago when I watched a YouTube clip of a young woman with a powerful voice belting out Alicia Keys’ “No One.”
The singer was a Sicilian, 25 years old, who lives in Milan. And she obviously has a habit . . . as in a nun’s habit. Her name is Sister Cristina Scuccia and she’s a member of the Ursuline Sisters of the Holy Family. And, yes, she is a “real” nun.
The clip is definitely worth the eight minutes— just Google “Italian nun voice” — even if you don’t speak any Italian. In the show, four judges sit with their backs to the stage in swivel chairs. If they like what they hear from the singer, they hit a button and turn around.
It’s quite entertaining just to watch the faces of the judges as they see that the talented singer is a nun. When one of the judges asks Sister Cristina what the Vatican thinks of her performance, she replies — without missing a beat — that she now hopes for a phone call from Pope Francis.
From the moment Sister Cristina sings her first few notes, the audience is on its feet, cheering. Back- stage, some of her fellow Sisters nervously jump up and down as she performs. Later on, the crowd chants, “So-rel-la,” which means “Sister” in Italian, over and over again.
When asked by the judges why she came on the show, she responds, “I have a gift and now Iam giving it to you. Shouldn’t it be that way?” She adds that Pope Francis “always says we should go out and evangelize . . . I am here for this.”
There’s much more to Sister Cristina’s story. In the biography submitted to the TV show, she says that she always wanted to be a singer. Quite by accident, in 2008, she participated in a “music hall” sponsored by the Ursuline Sisters. At the time, she was a non-believer and “against the Church, but found instead love.”
Her choice of “No One” might be a subtle reference to the Love that she found. Think of Jesus as the subject of that song and you get a nice testimony of faith.
As of this writing, there have been nearly 29 million hits on this YouTube video. Obviously, some of the interest is simply curiosity or the novelty of seeing a nun on “The Voice.” But there is absolutely no mistaking the exuberant joy this young nun possesses. Her eyes sparkle, as does her personality. Her whole being seems to tingle with life.
And she is “normal” in every sense of the word, especially in her enthusiasm for the faith. In a country like Italy, where the vast majority of people are only nominally Catholic, this young nun may at least put the thought into people’s minds — as Pope Francis unfailingly does— that there is something truly worth examining and pursuing in this “faith thing.”
If the people won’t come to church, then the church needs to go to the people. Even ”The Voice” can be a vehicle for the “culture of encounter” that Pope Francis has talked about.
Sister Cristina’s singing reminded me of another nun, although a “fake” one: Whoopi Goldberg in the 1992 film “Sister Act.” Like Goldberg’s fictional nun, this real life one may bring young people back to church through her an- gelic singing. When Sister Cristina can bring tears to even a tattooed, Italian rapper — Ja-X — some- thing special is certainly going on.
I do hope that Sister Cristina gets her phone call from the pope. But, let me voice my opinion here and now: “No One” is a bigger fan of hers than me.