After preaching and visiting the slums, Fiel Pareja, a Philippine priest, formed a Gen Z herd on TikTok and created a video of Christian pop music praying, dancing and lip-synching for 1.6 million followers. To do.
A tech-savvy priest like Pareha turned a popular video-sharing platform into a virtual pulpit with young believers as the coronavirus pandemic closed prayers throughout the Catholic-dominated country. I was connected.
Pareha spends up to six hours at night recording a short video of TikTok in his room in a middle school north of Manila. Take a few hours of sleep before starting a real idyllic job.
The challenge is to create relevant, creative, “not boring” content, and a 30-year-old man ordered just weeks before the outbreak of Covid-19 left the country for months. I sent it to the blockade.
Wearing a black casock and collar, Pareha recites a passage from the Bible and prays in English and Tagalog for everything from fighting anxiety to restoring democracy in Myanmar.
In other videos, he dances and lip-syncs to a Christian version of Zedd and Alessia Cara’s song “Stay.”
Pareha’s unorthodox evangelization resonated with Generation Z’s favorite platform.
Each of his more than 670 videos has been acclaimed tens of thousands of times and has earned the nickname “Father Tik Tok.”
“We believe that social media can help reach out to young people today,” said Pareha, who counts Muslims, Protestants and Methodists among his online followers.
“It’s endless preparation and content creation, but this makes me happy and happy to know that people get (fulfill) their spiritual needs.”
His growing fan base includes Erica Jacaba, a 20-year-old Lapsed Catholic living in central Bohol.
Jakaba said he was comforted by Pareha’s prayers watching when he had enough money to pay for additional cell phone data.
“Father Feel’s prayer erases my sorrow and the stress I feel on myself,” said Jakaba.
The Catholic fortress in Asia is 500 years old since the arrival of Christianity in the archipelago, and the church continues to have a strong impact on the lives of many Filipinos.
About 80% of the population describe themselves as Catholic, and many are enthusiastic about their faith.
However, Luciano Ferroni, a popular Catholic influential figure and parish priest in Manila, fears diminishing interest among young people.
He said TikTok and other social media platforms have become important tools for maintaining the relevance of religious groups.
“I think it’s essential. The church should be fully present in cyber missions,” said a 47-year-old Argentine who has lived in the Philippines for over 20 years.
Felloni advises on how to record and upload TikTok videos with over 11,000 followers to get a positive outlook. Often just after finishing a morning jogging in sweaty sportswear.
“My learning on social media is that credibility keeps people following you,” Ferroni said.
“I’m trying to do it as it is and where I am now. Spontaneity is very important.”
Felloni started posting videos on Facebook in 2016, but after migrating to TikTok during the blockade last year, he realized that it was the platform of choice for many young people.
“I can’t find them on Facebook anymore. They’re already gone because Facebook was hijacked by my grandmother and her mother,” he said.
Ferroni is currently leading efforts in his parish to encourage other priests to use social media. He runs workshops on different platforms and how to attract followers.
“People are really looking for God,” he said.
“That’s what I noticed on social media.”
Covid-19 overturned the way most Filipinos practiced their beliefs, and many were unable to enter church, communion, or participate in religious processes for more than a year. ..
Broderick Pavilo, an assistant bishop of the Archbishop of Manila, said it became commonplace to livestream the masses on Facebook and YouTube and post religious messages on Instagram, even after the pandemic was over. Stay. “
“We have already tasted its usage and have seen its abilities,” he said.
TikTok plays a central role in Father Paul Woo’s efforts to guide young people to the pew of a church in Navotas, one of the poorest areas of the capital.
“Sometimes we don’t have time to get attention to other things, such as games and friends,” Wu told AFP in the parish, where he recorded and uploaded a video.
Wu is dressed in her own clothes and participates in dance and emoji challenges. He also shares a more gloomy picture of his sermon for more than 65,000 followers.
“The church really needs to keep up with the times,” Wu said.
“Especially given the gift of digital technology, there are many ways we can reach out to people.”
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