To parishioners of the Immaculate Conception Parish, in Baligao, Angeles City, he’s parochial vicar Fr. Fiel Pareja. But to millennials and Generation Z, he’s “Father Tiktok,” a nickname he earned for his attention-grabbing videos on the popular social media platform.
For this 30-year-old priest, it wasn’t just the suspension of physical Masses due to the pandemic that led him to turn to technology to spread God’s Word. As a matter of fact, this priest who was ordained just one month before the lockdown had hoped to physically celebrate Holy Mass and administer the sacraments face-to-face with people.
“To my surprise, it didn’t happen,” he tells My Pope Philippines. “God led me to do my priestly ministry with the faithful in a different way and setting that I didn’t imagine at first.” (Read: 3 Medical Doctors You Should Be Following on YouTube)
Nevertheless, he debuted on the site last May 26 with the “Wipe It Down Challenge” — his seconds-long video in various priestly garbs with every swipe of a rag on his cabinet mirror. The post earned over 17,000 likes— proof that TikTok, when used right, can comfort, teach, and inspire.
“Social media and modern technology are gifts from God that need to be utilized,” says Fr. Fiel, who now has over 1.3 million followers on TikTok. Every day, he feeds the faithful’s souls with daily Bible verse reflections called “Wait, Don’t Skip,” trending moves like the “Prayer Challenge,” and inspirational and motivational tips.
My Pope Philippines chats with Fr. Fiel on his techie skills, which priests he follows on social media, and how TikTok has changed him as God’s servant.
Were you always a ‘techie’ person?
I am not a techie person. It took me months to master how to edit a minute-long video and until now, I am still learning new skills on editing. I do all the tasks: content creation, filming, editing, posting, and even monitoring its analytics and engagement. A minute-long video eats up 2-3 hours of my time, sometimes more. (Read: 5 TikTok Accounts to Follow for Easy Recipes)
Even if I know that it is indeed tiring and exhausting sometimes, I think of the people entrusted to my care as a priest on social media. I am sharing with the mission of Christ by allowing Him to use me as His humble instrument to proclaim His Kingdom in a creative way.
Your videos are popular among the youth. Was this your intention?
I personally did not expect my content to be received wholeheartedly by millennials and Generation Z. I only envision content that makes the youth feel that they are not alone, that they are not left behind, that the Church is present, and that the Lord loves them.
What are some of the most common prayer requests you receive?
Usually, prayers for healing, fighting sadness and broken-heartedness, financial stability and finding a job, and for modules. Also, many seek counseling and advice on family problems, relationship problems, addiction, and depression.
Which priests do you follow on social media?
Bishop Robert Barron, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Fr. Jerry Orbos SVD, Fr. Luciano Felloni, to name a few. They inspire me to reach out to people through social media evangelization. (Read: 5 Priests You Should Subscribe to on YouTube)
How has TikTok changed you as a person?
I am an introvert! I am naturally shy when it comes to facing a camera and it requires many takes for me to finish a single video. It took me months to feel at home doing what I am doing. With that being said, “TikToking” daily changed me for the good by boosting my self-confidence in facing a camera and hearing my recorded voice, which personally makes me uneasy.