Father Fiel Pareja does his segment on social media to inspire Catholics to leaf through the pages of the Scriptures and go to church again regularly.
The famed TikTok priest has observed that a significant number of Catholics do not possess a Bible of their own and hardly attend Mass.
"I have noticed in my pastoral missions that there is a large population in our Church who has no access to a Bible," he said in an email interview. Many also "seldom go to church."
Simple yet effective
But through his Daily Devotion on Tiktok and Facebook, numbers of Catholics read the Bible again. He fondly refers to these returnees as 'devotioners.'
"Many devotioners are now on a journey to read and reflect on the Word of God, a habit they were not used to before," Pareja said. "To start the day, many open their gadgets to pray and reflect on God's living Word. When they miss doing it, they feel their day is not complete."
The show currently has 2.6 million followers on TikTok and 1.1 million followers on Facebook from across the world, he added. And the number of followers continues to grow.
The Daily Devotion has the largest number of viewers in the Philippines, but has also audiences in parts of the globe, including Islamic countries in Asia.
"Based on our latest algorithm," Pareja said, "next to the Philippines, which is the home of the project, are countries in the Middle East, the United States, and Latin America. The Daily Devotion is in the Filipino language. We assume that those who view it abroad are Filipinos working or living there."
Begun in January 2022, the Daily Devotion has also converted and consoled people.
"Many conversion experiences are being told to us via direct message and emails," Pareja said. People are sharing "how God's Word touches their lives during difficulties and uncertain moments, like depression, family problems, work and school-related concerns, spiritual dryness, and many others."
The followers are grateful for the Daily Devotion that was devised in a way that easily and effectively connects to the people.
"They are thankful that there is a platform that nourishes their spiritual needs in a simple yet articulate reflection on the Word of God," he said.
"The format of the Daily Devotion is simple," Pareja added, "it begins in a prayer, a reading from the Sacred Text, a reflection, and concludes with a simple prayer."
All by himself
"The Daily Devotion is a project to regain the practice of reading the Word of God and living it out among Catholics," the priest said. "It's a year-long segment for the year 2022. It was previously the "Bible Verse Daily" project for the year 2021."
Many think a team of technical people -- priests and lay alike -- is behind the production of the daily episodes of the show that look professionally produced. But Parejo does everything alone.
"Much preparation is required for a daily episode, from writing, filming, and editing," he said. "For almost three years now, I have been doing all the stuff. No team to do it for me. But eventually, I will need one. However, I can say it is definitely my prayer time that nourishes my daily reflection and my daily exposure and conversions with people."
The guidance of the Holy Spirit in making content is as important as gold, the priest added.
Pareja regards social media as an effective tool the Church should harness in carrying out its mission. Both the religious and lay should use and safeguard cyberspace for the good of the Church and the faithful.
"Social media has become a mission station for me as a pastor," Pareja said. "This new digital continent must be taken care of. As our age progresses and our technology advances, the Church needs to see all possible means in reaching more souls and win them back to the Lord."
He hopes the Church will make the most of cyberspace in its favour by creating more shows and programs on social media, aimed at consolidating the faithful and further broadening the Church's domain across the globe.
Pareja is popularly known for his Daily Devotion on social media. People call him TikTok priest. But his daily show on TikTok and Facebook is just a second job as a priest.
"To tell you honestly, my social media mission is just an aside task," he said. "During the day, you can see me on the roads with my sheep. On-the-ground programs for the people are still my top priorities as an installed parish priest in the Philippines. The content making for Daily Devotion is nourished by my close experience with people."
During Pareja's time, mostly in the evening, he films himself to produce Daily Devotion episodes.
Pareja is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in Magalang, Pampanga.
Pareja was ordained priest in 2020, a month before the pandemic and lockdown. As a new priest, he was full of excitement about celebrating Holy Mass and administering the sacraments. Covid shattered his hopes, but God opened another door to do his priestly ministry in a different way, beyond his own imagination.
Pampanga is a province, about 80 kilometers north of Manila, the country's capital. It is known as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines. Pampanga's city of San Fernando is the Christmas Capital of the Philippines.
Pareja encourages the faithful to pore over the Scriptures.
"Make it a habit to read and reflect on God's Word, pray, and look at how He speaks through it," Pareja said. "You will never notice, little by little, you are being changed by the Word of God that is active and life-changing."
"Make it a habit, one verse daily, so you can love the Lord more dearly," he added.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.