Pics by Savitha B R
Feb 21, 2011
There are people who are old and there are those who feel old and worthless even before they approach the twilight of life. History is not replete with many examples where octogenarians have given a new twist to their lives or done something extraordinary at a time when many others have called it quits. However, there are certainly exceptions to this rule and Sr Millicent Pinto of Ursuline Franciscan Sisters (UFS) is one such exception. At 83, she looks her age physically and her memory is certainly not as sharp as it used to be. But age has not withered her perseverance and profound resolve to believe in herself and in her unique talent, which she terms as god’s gift. Her twinkling eyes bear a testimony to her child-like enthusiasm as she all set to release the CD of Konkani hymns written and composed by her, on February 27, 2011, in Mangalore. The release function will be held at Valencia Parish and Valencia parish priest Fr Bonaventure Nazareth will release the CD.
The CD comprising 13 hymns with reflections in between written by her, give an insight into the spiritual aspects of human beings emphasizing that the life we lead in this world is only temporary and that we need to prepare for death well in advance. She recorded the songs and gave it to Simon J Pais, Bajal and sangeet guru Joel Pereira, who gave the final touch and helped in the music part of the CD. “This CD is to help people especially, the sick and the old, to prepare them spiritually, to help them collect enough treasures at the fag end of their worldly journey”, Sr Millicent states. The songs sung in chorus by multiple singers were recorded at Sandesha Digital Studio, Mangalore. Fr Norbert Fernandes guided her in the lyrics part and Fr Clifford has lent voice for the reflections.
What prompted her to get into writing and composing songs at old age, which is often considered as a period of integrity and despair and people prefer to lead a sedate life? “I was inspired by prayers. For me it is life’s mission as in my prayer I was enlightened to do something for the society especially for the younger generation. I feel god has given me a special gift of composing and tuning hymns and when I was at the Divine Call Centre songs/hymns just came to me one after another”, she recounts. The excitement is very much palpable in her voice as she is coordinating with all those who are involved in bringing out the CD in time for release on February 27.
Despite her advancing years Sr Millicent is full of enthusiasm and vitality that belie her age as she talks passionately about the second CD she is bringing out.. For Sr Millicent’s life took a turn in 2009 after her superior Sr Aurea of Holy Rosary Convent, Jeppu, where Sr Millicent presently stays, suggested her to conduct prayer services for funeral ceremonies, to keep her engaged considering her old age. Sr Millicent took cue from that suggestion and came out with Konkani songs which could be used for people who are aged, sick or during the funeral services. The songs turned out to be exceptional and then the idea of providing a larger audience to the songs germinated, which finally paved the way for bringing out the CD.
“My first CD contained songs which were in my mind and songs which I used to sing during my stint of six years at the Divine Call Centre, (the charismatic Retreat Centre) in Mulky”, she says.
“With the moral support of our superior I wrote down the songs and fixed tunes which eventually made the way for my first CD “Muje Thayin Jiye” (live within me) mid 2009”, she says exuberantly explaining her debut as song writer and composer at the age of 81. Bringing out CD involves money and she sought financial support of her brother and his family, Gerald and Patricia Pinto, Doha Qatar, who willingly came forward to provide the necessary financial assistance and the CD became a reality and so did her dream. “Muje Thayin Jeye” contained 11 Konkani Charismatic songs written and composed by Sr Millicent and harmonization was provided by Fr Walter Albuquerque SJ & Simon Pais, Bajal. As there was no commercial motive in releasing the CD, it was distributed free of cost to churches and catholic institutions where it could be used.
Having made her debut as lyricist and composer at the ripe age of 81, there was no stopping Sr Millicent, who went about with her new found passion with added zeal and vigor. Greatly emboldened by the positive response of her first CD she began to prepare doggedly with a new found eagerness and the result is her second CD of 13 hyms titled “Death, Judgement, Hell and Heaven” based on the four last things (Nimanyo chaar vostu, morn zadthi, yemkond and sarg). From last July onward Sr Millicent has been working ceaselessly to put together her hymns and work on the script on reflection. Listening to the hymns one is sure to be overwhelmed by the smooth melody and piousness it evokes and it instantly strikes a chord as it is cathartic.
Talking about the passion with which Sr Millicent was involved in this task Sr Aurea, Superior of Holy Rosary Convent says “I really admire her promptitude and the perseverance with which she went about the task in preparing to bring out the CD, as if that was the only goal she aspired. That kind of intensity at this age is praiseworthy and she has been an inspiration to me personally and to the entire community”. Her oeuvre may look simple for ordinary people but considering her age it is a monumental achievement, something that has no parallel.
Sr Millicent who belong to Bondel parish, has served in Bolar, Fajir, Heerabail, Honsur convent, Mysore, Jogfalls, Bhatkal, Thernamakki in North Kanara and many more places in various capacities. She has also served as the superior of Ursuline novitiate. About 10 years back she was treated for Ulcer Colitis and survived despite everyone giving up hopes and after her active retirement she is put up at Holy Rosary Convent. She was sent to Divine Call Centre on request where she worked from 2004 to 2009 conducting intersession prayers and counseling. It was at the Divine Call Centre that she was inspired by prayer and hymns started coming into her mind effortlessly. She has also played a crucial role in collecting donations for the divine centre by using her contacts. But the developments of past two years at the Divine Call Centre were too shocking for her and the Holy Rosary Convent thought it fit to bring her back to help her recover fast. Her recovery was astounding for her age and the results are there for everyone to see, in the form of two CDs within a span of 1 ½ years.
Sr Millicent is grateful to her brother Gerald Pinto and his wife Petricia Pinto for rendering financial assistance to bring out the CD’s. She also recalls with gratitude the help and good work done by Simon Pais, Bajal and Joel Pereira apart from the moral support she got fro her own organization.
Life is meaningful in its own way but we have to only discover its worthiness, just as Sr Millicent has done. Her achievement is sure to inspire generations to come.