These ‘Millennial Nuns’ Preach the Gospel Through Social Media

BOOK PICK: A new book offers testimonies from eight young religious sisters on the providence, mercy and love of God.

‘Millennial Nuns’ shines light on the evangelization of the Daughters of St. Paul and their own faith journeys.
‘Millennial Nuns’ shines light on the evangelization of the Daughters of St. Paul and their own faith journeys. (photo: Daughters of St. Paul)

In Millenial Nuns: Reflections on Living a Spiritual Life in a World of Social Media, eight Daughters of St. Paul share testimonies about the discovery of their vocations — each with its own set of humor and grace, and includes reflections on the time of the pandemic, too. 

The Daughters of St. Paul, a religious order initially founded in Italy in 1915 by Father James Alberione, are often referred to as the “Media Nuns” — “sisters who proclaim Christ using all forms of media.”

But in the opening foreword, Sister Marie James Hunt noted an important disclaimer: The Daughters of St. Paul are not nuns, technically.

“The differences between a religious sister and a religious nun are that we sisters are engaged in society, sharing our lives, prayer, and ministry externally, while a religious nun remains in her cloister offering prayers and sacrifices such as silence and fasting as her main ministry,” she wrote. 

Because of this, the Daughters of St. Paul can evangelize in various ways — including through social media. 

“Father Alberione received his inspiration to do something great for the people of the new century when he was at prayer,” Sister Marie continued. “As a young seminarian, he felt Jesus calling him to use the powerful means of the media to communicate the Good News of the Gospel.”

The sisters have continued this mission, using media as a creative outlet for preaching the Gospel by curating beautiful images for Instagram, recording podcasts and videos, and using technology within the convent. 

“[The sisters] are deeply aware of the media’s power to influence individuals and societies,” Sister Marie said.

In this book, the sisters tell the story of their lives, all with humorous anecdotes, raw and gut-wrenching experiences, and a testimony to the humility and docility they pursue every day. 

Each chapter of Millenial Nuns presents a wildly different, challenging and unexpected story of a sister’s transformation.

First, Sister Amanda Marie Detry shares how she began a journey learning the language of God. Though naturally hesitant at first, Sister Amanda found immense freedom in her “Yes” to God. 

“This yes to God is the language and entire lexicon of poverty,” Sister Amanda said. “When we speak of poverty, we often think about the no’s, but the no means absolutely nothing if it does not enable us to say yes to God from the depths of our being, with all that we are.”

Sister Amanda emphasized how her gifts and talents — specifically singing — were cherished and supported in the convent. 

“Our world … needs men and women who are not afraid to give God more than what they think others will understand, so that others may see in them a reflection of the God beyond all understanding,” she said. “The world needs the gift of our voices and our lives, so that it might find in us — as my sisters and I have found in Christ — a language of life through which it, too, can lift the fullness of its heart to God.”

Sister Tracey Dugas, too, noted how her obedience to the Lord helped her discover a gift in writing, one she would not have found without the help of others. 

Sister Tracey has an Instagram account (@sistah_tee_letters) where she shares hand-lettered messages, revealing the heart of God in simple yet beautiful creations. 

“Through our media mission, I carry my relationship with God into the world and show by my witness what it means to be a disciple,” Sister Tracey wrote. “Being called to witness the love of God extends to every aspect of who I am and where I live, especially social media. While many aspects of social media can distract me from true encounters with God, myself, and others, much can be said for the many ways social media can be utilized as a means for authentic witness. What better way to tell the story of how I am trying to remain with Jesus in the insanity that is 2020 than through a daily post? Social media is a great platform for this kind of witness.”

In each chapter, a new creative faculty comes to life in a sister. Sister Danielle Victoria Lussier spent her whole life creating, pursuing a career as an artist and filmmaker before realizing that the world was consuming her. 

“A beautiful work of art can captivate our senses and call us out of ourselves into the mystery of things beyond our intellect,” Sister Danielle wrote. “And a beautiful work of art includes both light and dark, light and shadows. When these elements come together in harmony, they allude to the fuller story. True beauty seeks to make visible the invisible. And so art became the only sacred space I trusted to seek deeper understanding for my life.”

After her reversion, Sister Danielle’s artistic ability was radically transformed into a service for the Lord. 

“I placed all my gifts in the arts on the altar and told God, ‘Hand this back to me when I can use it for your glory alone,’” Sister Danielle wrote. “God brought order out of chaos, beauty out of ugliness, and life from death, and he invites us with our every breath to co-create with him in our daily lives. … Good and true art needs to be lived with God. It is re-creative love that makes art and life truly beautiful. Stick around and together you will make beautiful things. He will make a masterpiece with your life.” 

These stories are beautifully woven together into a greater testimony on the providence of God. The Millenial Nuns are in radical pursuit of transforming the world through media, all dependent upon humble obedience to the Lord. 

“My life is a total gift from him, and he wants my total involvement as I strive to give it back to him,” wrote Sister Emily Beata Marsh. “This, after all, is vocation — giving my life back to God in love, little by little, day by day, until I belong totally to him.”