For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church in India, a Catholic nun received the first professional cinematographic award from the India Book of Record (IBR).
Sister Lismy Parayil, a member of the Congregation of Mother of Carmel (CMC), on March 8, received recognition for making 100 music videos.
She also has made six documentaries and several short films.
She is the first cinematographer nun in the southern Indian state of Kerala and the country to have this rare talent.
“I am extremely happy and grateful to God and people who have been part of my work as I receive this honour,” Parayil told RVA News.
Behind her success in shooting music videos, documentaries, short films, and editing the final project is the full support and encouragement from her Congregation.
“The religious life as a priest or nun becomes more meaningful and joyful when we follow the rules of the Congregation and the church and obey the instructions of authorities with the help of God,” she said.
Millions of Indians trust IBR registered with the federal government of India. Since 2006, the IBR recognizes people who yearn “for the collective good of mankind overcoming individual limitations.”
It publishes a record book each year on extraordinary people’s ability giving them recognition. IBR felicitates the achievers with the IBR certificates, a medal, pen, ID, car sticker, and a book containing the collection of records.
The board members are a team of chief editors from record books of seven nations—Vietnam, Malaysia, USA, Nepal, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Thailand—are the board members.
Adhering to the policy of inclusiveness and following the rules set as per the International Protocol for New Records guidelines, IBR recognizes people and their contribution to society.
IBR believes that talent knows no boundary. Religion, creed, and colour do not determine persons or their capabilities.
An experienced team of 50 adjudicators ensures that the record-setter reaches one’s goal and achieves the record. IBR editorial team of 45 members verifies, processes, and authenticates their achievements in an unbiased manner to select the deserving record.
Parayil was one of the achievers for 2022.
It is a rare record for the nun who sustains her passion for technology and the camera.
She has proved today that the nun, nay priests, can spread God’s kingdom through the means of social communication in this modern time.
Her congregation authorities recognized her interest in photography and encouraged her with their support.
Though she had finished a teacher’s training course, she pursued her BA in English with Journalism and Mass Communication course from Calicut University, Kerala, because of her interest in video making. Later, she completed a diploma course in cinematography and editing.
Parayil is into full-time cinematography, and her indomitable passion persists.
“For me, it is a God-given talent to spread God’s goodness in society,” she says.
The nun, daughter of Chandy and Annamma, hails from Saint Joseph Church, Vettukad of Trissur Archdiocese in southern Indian state Kerala.
After Grade ten, she joined CMC to become a nun. In the convent, her interest in the camera began, she recalled.
She took her first religious vows on April 23, 2006, and perpetual vows on April 15, 2011. She belongs to the Nirmala (pure) Province of Trissur of CMC.
“I was fascinated with technology since my childhood. The convent where I began my journey had a camera with which I started doing short videos occasionally,” Parayil said.
Once for a retreat, she produced a music video on the fire of the Holy Spirit featuring a song by gospel singer Kester.
It was purely based on her creativity and imagination that enabled her to put the frames and meanings using the available props.
“That boosted my desire to do more and continue the discovery using various technologies,” the nun says.
Over time, she did videos on Saints Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Euphrasia Eluventhinkal of Kerala during their canonization in 2014.
The nun showcased some of those two saints’ works and launched her first online channel.
During those days, she developed severe arthritis and was in a wheelchair for some time.
“Nothing could deter my passion for cinematography, which is for me, a means to be an instrument of God for others,” Parayil says.
In 2017, she started another online channel for her congregation named “Nirmala Media TSR,” featuring bible, Christianity, spirituality, and devotional songs.
As of now, it has garnered 2.78 million views.
However, she is not free from critics who say if media and cinematography are suitable for nuns like her.
“My response to my critics is that I use media and cinematography for the common good and God’s work,” she says.
She captures the beauty of the creation, which is the gift of God, showing people how great God is.
It is a new mission to make known the beauty of God through media. She is the first nun who took the courage to do it.
Over the years, she has established contacts with mainstream filmmakers in Kerala.
“With those contacts and friends in the film fraternity, I dream to direct films on the lives of saints, someday,” Parayil says.
(Carmelite Father Manu Cherumuttathupadi and Sister Jolly Joseph of Daughters of the Sacred Heart contributed to this report.)
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