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Viral Jerusalema Video

Red Nuns' viral dance video is an ode to front-line pandemic workers

Article originally in: https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/arts-and-media/news/red-nuns-viral-dance-video-ode-front-line-pandemic-workers Members of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Dublin take part in the "Jerusalema" dance challenge at the Monastery of St. Alphonsus in north Dublin. (Courtesy of Sr. Lucy Conway)


Dublin — Messages continue to flood in to the Redemptoristinesat their monastery in Dublin after the community of contemplative nuns took part in the "Jerusalema" dance challenge in a February videothat quickly went viral. Speaking from Monastery of St. Alphonsus in Drumcondra, Prioress Sr. Lucy Conway recounted to Global Sisters Report, "People have told us that it gave them a lift when they really needed it. To see enclosed nuns full of joy in the middle of a pandemic, it made them laugh and cry at the same time."


The video shows the sisters in their distinctive red habits (postulants wear blue) dancing to "Jerusalema" around the cloisters and grounds of their monastery. The choreography was organized by Sr. Helen Freer from England, who taught Scottish dancing before entering, and postulant Deirdra Leone-Kearney from the United States, who was a ballet dancer for many years. Ten members of the community took part in the actual dancing while three older sisters can be seen on the video, clapping along. "We're a fabulous community, full of happiness, peace and joy and service for one another," Conway said.

Members of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Dublin take part in the "Jerusalema" dance challenge at the Monastery of St. Alphonsus in north Dublin. (Courtesy of Sr. Lucy Conway)


The idea of partaking in the "Jerusalema" dance challenge was suggested by many friends of the community. The Redemptorists in Ireland had also decided to undertake the challenge and suggested that their sister congregation do it, too.



"We went ahead with it, as we like to use media in every forum that is handed to us and use it in a positive way to give glory to God," said Conway, who has been prioress of the enclosed contemplative community for six years.


The Redemptoristines were fortunate that iconographer Mihai Cucu, who has been staying at the monastery and assisting the nuns in creating religious icons, is also a videographer. "He videoed us and edited the piece," Conway said. "We got so much joy out of it." "It was a labor of love, and it was done as an initiative of prayer," she said. "Our first thought was to do it as a prayer for our suffering world. And our second thought was for the front-line workers and all those risking their lives during this pandemic. We continue to pray for them every day. Our wish now is that everyone would get the vaccine."




Members of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Dublin take part in the "Jerusalema" dance challenge at the Monastery of St. Alphonsus in north Dublin. (Courtesy of Sr. Lucy Conway)


On the day Conway spoke to GSR, the community was preparing to be vaccinated, a particular relief after six nuns diedfrom COVID-19 at the Holy Family Convent in Newbridge, County Kildare, in late January and early February.



The response to the nuns' video of the "Jerusalema" dance was so huge that Conway hasn't been able to read all the emails and letters they have received, expressing people's delight at seeing the nuns dance the pandemic blues away.


"It has been unbelievable. We are getting letters and emails every day, and I'm replying every day," she said. "We got some gorgeous letters from older people. One woman told me that she was 88 and had liver cancer and that the dance had given her so much joy. We haven't had one negative reaction. A family in Kilkenny wrote to say it was lovely for their children to see the nuns and to see the inside of an enclosed monastery."


The pandemic has presented the enclosed community with many challenges, including the decline in demand for their main source of income: altar breads. There has been a ban on public Masses in Ireland since Christmas Day under restrictions aimed at bringing down COVID-19 infection rates, which rocketed in the aftermath of Christmas gatherings and the spread of a new, more transmissible variant. The Mass ban was also in place for most of the fall and the spring.