Evangelize with a piano

Marisa T. Bernasor, augustinian recollect sister, completed her piano studies in the Philippines weeks ago. She was the first religious to study this degree. Teaching other sisters her little knowledge of music, she discovered that she needed to deepen and put her qualities at the service of the community.

Just one minute of conversation with Sister Marisa T. Bernasor, augustinian recollect sister, to discover that she has an enormous passion for music. “One can enter the heart of the person through music,” she says. Perhaps the best summary of its history. This Filipino nun recently finished her piano studies at the conservatory of music of the University of Santo Tomás.

She is the first ‘augustinian recollect sister’ to carry out such studies. There were no precedents, although for her it has not been an impediment. She understands music as part of her vocation. “Considering the kind of life I’ve embraced, I’m convinced that one of the goals of my life is to inspire those by my side through music,” she says. She owes this artistic gift to her parents, Candido and Jovita.

Before studying, she had qualities. She taught choral music to sisters, aspirants and students. She was teaching when she discovered that she needed to learn so she could give more. “I understood that I had to study in order to get something that I could later give to others,” she says.

Her community superior, Sister Antonietta V. Castañares, supported her idea of studying piano. Both presented their proposal to the Superior General, who accepted that Sister Marisa learn to play the piano. Grateful, she says: “I thank the Lord for the Superior General and the Superior of the community, for opening my heart and mind to prepare me to be more productive.

The road was long. She began her studies, in which she never felt strange. “Being religious, it didn’t occur to me to feel strange playing the piano,” she says. It was six years of work and study. “With God’s grace and mercy, I was able to finish my studies. Until that moment, I had only played the electric organ. Playing the piano was absolutely different. But that wasn’t the hardest part. His challenge: “to find a balance in all areas: prayer, community life and studies.

The culmination was the recital he gave on the occasion of his graduation. In his show he interpreted Symphony no. 6 in E major by Bach, op. 740 of Czerny, Sonata no. 18 in E major by Haydn, and the Spanish piece by Granados. It was his teacher who chose his repertoire. “He considered my ability and my time to rehearse,” he explains. He had “75 percent nervousness” but he found the key: “I gave my whole being to God so that He could direct me”.

From now on, the sister says she faces a “challenge. “I must give back to God what he has given me through a loving service of the Church through the congregation,” she says. From now on, she enjoys two of her passions together: music and the Eucharist. “The center of the Eucharist is music and singing; I will be able to help in each celebration with my music,” she says enthusiastically.