Manila, Philippines – March 31, 2021 – At the start of 2020, Fr. Fiel Pareja from the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga, was ordained. The new priest, who was eager to get started on his ministry, had no idea back then that things would not go exactly as he had hoped. He shares, “My ordination happened a month before lockdown due to pandemic. Full of excitement, I was hoping that I would discharge my ministry as a priest with people physically, face-to-face; celebrating Holy Mass and administering the sacraments ‘physically’ with them. To my surprise, it didn’t happen. God led me to do my priestly ministry with the faithful in a different way and setting which I didn’t imagine at first.”
“Due to COVID-19, we were all admonished to stay in our houses. The Church reads the ‘signs of the times’ and wants to be near to her flock during this most difficult time. That’s why, for their spiritual nourishment, online celebration of the Mass became more relevant. I was celebrating Mass facing a camera having in my heart the people God entrusted to my pastoral care,” he continues.
The different setting for Fr. Fiel’s ministry turned out to be TikTok, a creative platform that has also become a go-to space for people to share knowledge, information, and even inspiration. Putting his creativity to work, he had the brilliant idea of using his content to connect with people of similar faith, in order to educate and motivate them. “It was on the month of May that I began my TikTok journey. My nephew introduced to me this platform. At first, I was hesitant having in mind ‘baka magulat sila nag TikTok ang pari’ so I disregard her [sic] persuasion,” he says.
Eventually, after further encouragement, he decided to give the app a try. “If you will visit my TikTok account, you’ll see my first TikTok video. I did the trending ‘wipe it down challenge’ with a twist. Having in mind that I am a priest, I incorporated a little liturgical catechism: Changing my vestment into different liturgical colors. My goal then was to educate the people about it,” he shares. “I didn’t expect that my content will be received wholeheartedly. The rest is history.”
Fr. Fiel’s Wipe It Down Challenge
Sharing his faith through daily bible verses and prayers
Using TikTok as a creative platform for his ministry
Fr. Fiel surprised many people, who never expected to see a priest on TikTok. As his videos went viral and reached an even larger audience, his follower began to ask for guidance, intercession, and motivation. By posting prayers, reflections, and even tips for taking care of one’s mental health, he has been able to use his content to make followers on the app feel that they are not alone in these challenging times.
For Fr. Fiel, in times like these, TikTok and social platforms are gifts that need to be utilized. “Social platform plays an important role during this worldwide health crisis. Through it, we can reach out to one another and can assure each one that they are not alone in their journey,” he says.