Kathy Schiffer is a Catholic blogger. In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Zenit, the Michigan Catholic, Legatus Magazine, and other Catholic publications. She’s worked for Catholic and other Christian ministries since 1988, as radio producer, director of special events and media relations coordinator. Kathy and her husband, Deacon Jerry Schiffer, have three adult children.
Two religious communities in Ohio have collaborated to produce a video that parodies English singer/songwriter Adele's “Hello” – showing that religious sisters can have a lot of fun while delivering an important message.
Adele's Piano Ballad
Adele's Grammy award-winning single “Hello” burst onto the charts in 2015, with her plaintive lyrics focused on nostalgia and regret. The song was an instant hit, reaching No. 1 in almost every country it charted in. In the United States, “Hello” debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, then held the top spot for 10 consecutive weeks. It stands as one of the best-selling singles of all time.
In interviews, Adele described the song as being about “all the relationships of her past,” including relationships with friends, family members and ex-partners. “I felt all of us were moving on,” she explained on The Radio 1 Breakfast Show.
“...It's not that we have fallen out, we've all got our lives going on and I needed to write that song so that they would all hear it, because I'm not in touch with them.”
Here's the original video from Adele:
The Sisters' Playful Version
And now, two Cleveland-area religious communities have borrowed and expanded upon Adele's theme, coming together to produce a video parody that's gone viral. The Mercedarian Sisters and the Christ the Bridegroom Monastery, a Byzantine Catholic women's monastic community, have produced a YouTube video of their own which combines faith and fun, hope and humor. Only three minutes long, the sisters' video gained 23,000 views in the first two weeks following its May 1 release. Here's their version:
The sisters' video can be appreciated as just a silly song about a cookie – but on closer review, there's something much deeper going on.
First, there's the humorous “Oreo cookie” theme. In the Sisters' video, an Oreo cookie with separate halves lies on a round table between the groups. The white and black of the cookie reflects the colors of the habits of the two communities. The sisters sing about how they should not be separated; and then symbolically, with just a few steps, they adopt the familiar Oreo pattern: Sisters in black habits on the outside, those wearing creamy white in the center.
And there's the nod to Adele's moody lyrics and tune. Adele's lyrics “Hello from the other side” might well be applied to the two religious orders – the Mercedarian Sisters dressed in white, and the Byzantine sisters dressed in black – which hail from different wings of the Church, the East and the West.
But dig a little deeper, and the song's theological perspective becomes clearer still. The sisters sing about “breathing with both lungs,” a reference to St. John Paul II's desire for Christian unity. In his 1995 encyclical Ut Unum Sint (on Commitment to Ecumenism), St. John Paul II expressed his hope that there might be a fruitful dialogue between Rome and the Churches of the East. And of course Jesus himself prayed for unity, when he said:
“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23)
Here are the lyrics to the Sisters' parody tune – first the cookie, then the cream; then the Eastern Rite sisters, followed by the Latin Rite sisters; and finally all together, united in Christ:
“Hello, it's the cookie
We've been sitting here thinking how much we're incomplete
without our cream filling
They say we're s'posed to separate
But that's not okay with me
“Hello, it's cream filling
We're in Cleveland proper dreaming about how we're meant to breathe
With both lungs, cookie and cream
We long for the time when we're together and complete
There's not much difference between us
Just 39.9 miles
“Hello from the Eastern side
We've prayed "Lord have mercy" 40 times
To tell you we're with you in everything that we do
But when we call you're always adoring our Lord
“Hello from the Western side
Through the Eucharist we thrive
And we place you inside of His Sacred Heart
At the altar we are never apart anymore
“Hello from the OREOs
Protected by the Theotokos
United as one in the Body of Christ
The Mercedarians y las Byzantinas
Hello from Christ's loving brides
With Mama Mary at our side
To tell you that you're loved through everything that you've done
'Cause it don't matter you have a home in the Son forever”
Visit the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament’s website, their blog Becoming One in the Eucharist, or their Facebook page.