7 Capital Reasons Why a Priest must be on Twitter

Why am I, a priest, on Twitter? I ranted once about why I enjoyed being on Twitter to some members of my community and I got various reactions. I must admit some were unpleasant. Many said they still don’t get the point.

For the Church, everything we do must have a reason. Every act has a purpose. Every endeavor should lead towards the praise, honor and glory of God. Why? Because that is who we are, what we are and where we are headed. If things are done from pure instinct or feelings, then carried out without much thought, we cease to be human.

Here are some of the reasons why I am on Twitter.

1. Building a community of believers. On Twitter, I run a virtual campus ministry or parish. It allows me to build a strong network. Most are Catholics. Some belong to other faith traditions while others claim that they are not part of any institutional religion. Needless to say, they are persons also loved by God whether they reciprocate or not. This is enough reason to be in this form of ministry. Think of St. Paul and the first Christians who formed a new community of faith from scratch. Think of the missionaries who sailed to the Pacific centuries ago. The internet is the new mission area.

When people follow me, they connect with me. They are initiated into a universal community. By connecting, they are able to contribute to the conversation; their voices are heard. When we share thoughts, struggles, memories, and prayers with each other, we are able to gather in the Lord’s name. In virtual reality, I am not just the source of content; everyone is.

This is the essence of Twitter. Without followers, we are talking to no one. We are like priests without a community to serve. Ministry is about using our gifts for a specific and concrete group of people. However, it is easy to have followers; you only have to be patient like the first missionaries who initially had one until they were able to convert all. The difference today is that it does not take years to have a convert. Once people know you’re on Twitter, they will add you. Even the lousiest priest has followers. Don’t ask me why.

2. Sanctification. The minister and the community help sanctify each other. On Twitter, I get instant feedback. If my parishioners hear a lousy homily, they tweet. They now have an easy way to remind us that preparing our homily is a charitable act. Twitter is better than a suggestion box. [My homilies. Follow me on Twitter]

Since I am a priest, Twitter has been very beneficial to my ministry. Since my followers are students and parishioners, I am able to ask them about their concerns and needs. Then I write my homilies considering them. Somehow, this dialogue makes you better, if not, holier.

3. To read the signs of the times. To be able to know where the Holy Spirit is leading us, we must know current events. We must know what’s trending. We should know the pulse of the people and what are relevant to them.

Generations ago, you had to listen to the radio, turn on the television and buy newspapers to be updated. We sought out the news. Now, the news finds us before it is on air. For newbies, the first thing to do is follow CNN, Time, Newsweek, Al Jazeera English and/or local news programs like ANC, ABS-CBN, GMA7. You also get them firsthand if you follow reporters. In addition, what happens in Rome reaches the Philippines in real time. Since I followed several Jesuits and institutions on Twitter, I now know what fellow Jesuits are up to halfway around the globe. It is nice to know that you are all working as one.

But knowing the facts quickly is not the end of the line. We have to go further and deeper. The Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas SJ reminds us of our mission of depth. Non multa sed multum: Not many but much. Not quantity of information but depth. Not many bits of knowledge but what matters.

To be able to articulate what satisfies the soul, one’s discernment has to be based on facts, figures and the pulse of the people: you now know where I get it.

4. Tools of the Trade. Like a soldier, we cannot go to war without weapons. We must have all the information we need to become effective. Hours ago, I asked how social media could help in evangelization. Lo and behold! I got instant tweets. They forwarded useful links. They gave me their ideas. They told me about what they would find appealing. If I tweet about mass readings and prayers, will they find them worth their attention? If I send excerpts from the breviary’s Morning and Evening Prayers, will they be grateful or irritated? Should I tweet these excerpts every 15 mins, 30 mins, or an hour? The rate of their response was faster than interviewing, browsing or Googling.

5. Entertainment. I know this sounds so superficial, but we do need a good laugh not just once but most of the time. Humor keeps us sane and healthy. I remember Paolo Coelho responding to me! I am sure the high-brow version of the religious would find following celebrities superficial. If you’re one of them, admit it, you Pharisee! If one of the celebrities befriends you, no matter how disdainful their actions are to your taste, you will be ecstatic!

6. Accessibility. Let me say this first: Nothing beats the face-to-face relationship. But in circumstances when this is challenging, we can settle for the second best: technology. I believe the Church should go to the people. I want the Church to be as accessible as possible to their flock.

Twitter is a good way of shepherding. When people have doubts about the faith or confused with their particular and personal issues, they can tweet me right away. I can guide them when they need me. Likewise, they can also talk to me anytime. I have Twitter in my mobile phone. And this is what is good: I can shepherd without negotiating heavy traffic! Twitter can bring the Church closer to its people.

7. Promotion. I work at the Jesuit Music Ministry of the Jesuit Communications Foundation Inc., the media apostolate of the Philippine Province. We produce religious and inspirational albums. Many songs you hear at mass come from us. We produce television spots, MTVs, documentaries and radio programs. We also have training programs. Twitter is an inexpensive way to promote our products. We believe that the more people use our products, the more we are able to spread the Word of God in different appealing formats.

On Twitter, I also promote vocations, religious activities and events. Or if we want to be product-based, then consider selling the Word of God to a clientele who are not necessarily from within our circle.

Pope Paul VI once said:

“It is unthinkable that a person should believe the Word of God and submit himself to the Kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 24)

So why not use Twitter to proclaim eternity?

18 Comments

  1. this is just a great AMEN!!!!
    social media is the new era of evangelization.. they rock!.. social media beats pornography on the web. this is the new era. the new generation..

    so as we evangelize, we go to where the people are. if they are on social media, we will be there too!

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  2. Father, you have a point. twitter is a good way in evangelizing people. it also help priests to bring people more closer to the church and to God.. social network sites are big help nowadays in bringing the good news.

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  3. It is said that twitter is changing the world, 120 characters at a time. and it is but proper for a priest, a servant of God to the people, to be a part of this “change”. A change for good, a change for evangelization, and a change to be of a good influence to others.

    Personally, I used Twitter to cover the elections here in Los Baños last May. And I was the only member then of the local PPCRV that uses twitter. And I was able to relay the results and the news, faster than phone calls or text messages.

    Good thing that as a priest-in-process, as a seminarian, I already have a twitter which can be of use for my future ministry. hopefully.

    Nice article Fr. Jboy.🙂

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  4. Social networking sites like Twitter enable religious people to be connected (coz when I was young, I thought religious people have their own worlds, exclusive worlds). Twitter, in particular, bridges us (parishioners, professionals, students) to priests and people of great Faith. It’s funny though that I, in particular, sometimes have some questions and I tried to seek for answers and it’s in unlikely place like Twitter that I found answers.

    To be connected is also an opportunity. It gives people of all walks of life a lot of opportunities – opportunity to inspire other people; opportunity to be the beacon of hope, faith and love thru the messages, bible passages and God’s words we tweet; opportunity to share miracles and answered prayers; opportunity to encourage others to testify God’s love; and if people we follow tweeted sadness and raves, it urges others to pray for them.

    As God moves in mysterious ways and manifests His messages from people we do not expect, I believe that sometimes priests and religious people get God’s messages too from the people they follow in Twitter (and other social networking sites).

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    1. Almin, Almin!

      Thank you for your ideas and kind words. I agree with you totally. My personal mission is to make the faith as practical and as reasonable and understandable as ever!

      Hope I get to see you personally one day.

      Thank you very much. And continue taking great pictures. I remember you multiply.

      Jboy SJ

      God bless you.

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  5. And we are forever grateful for you reaching to us! Truly, the times call everyone to take everything one notch higher. People now have different avenues in which they can express their lives. The Internet now is a VERY, VERY, VERY important and powerful resources. It’s also VERY, VERY, VERY (or MAJOR, MAJOR, MAJOR!..haha) for you to evangelize and fulfill your priestly duties.

    Thank you Father for reaching to us youth and busy people, people who spend hours and virtually most of their day sitting in front of the computer and browsing the Internet. Thank you for making yourself and your wisdom available through the Internet. Minsan, we fail to visit God in the Blessed Sacrament. However, your words and your replies to our posts truly help in our spiritual growth. (of course, nothing beats going to church and pray).

    And one final thing, am I correct in saying that you have an MA in Communication? This is what I saw in your Friendster account, if I am not mistaken Father? Then you are really “academically” equipped na rin to evangelize using the Internet as your medium.

    Basta po, MORE POWER TO YOU FATHER JBOY!!

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    1. Thank you very much Angelo!

      We keep praying for each other and our ministry. I know your ministry whether in music, your studies or your practical daily life will also help those around you. And you can use media to express your thoughts and interests.

      It is good for people to see that though our gifts are varied, our personalities are unique, our identity are distinct, we are all one in loving the Lord. Love God your own personal way, because he loves you too distinctly, uniquely, overflowingly.

      Do take care.

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  6. Hi Fr. Jboy,
    Point well taken. I agree with you that cyberspace is the new mission area. It is where most of the people are in these days. If they are not going to Church to hear the Good News, what should stop a priest like you to use social media. I commend you Father for doing the extra mile. Kudos to you Father Jboy. I enjoy reading your blogs. Hope I can start a blog on how to win souls for God.

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  7. Awesome blog! Awesome points! The point being that it’s called social media means that’s where the online masses congregate today. That’s where many of our Catholic brothers and sisters spend some of their own personal time.

    I recently wrote in my blog that the real world and the virtual world mix a lot today in a person’s life. A long time ago, the virtual world was just fantasy; today, it’s part of a person’s reality. It’s not sad, it’s just what the world is today.

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  8. Very well said Fr. Jboy. I can’t believe I only found this now! Anyway, I just pray our own church here begins to heed this advice. We need more priests like you online. It doesn’t have to be Twitter. It can be Blogger, Tumblr or whatever. But yes, the Internet is where the missionaries should be working on now.

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  9. Jboy,

    I go back to this post because it struck me the first time I read this. My brother is a priest and he uses his facility in writing well to strengthen the faith of his parishioners and to move converts from among fence-sitters.

    I do wish more shepherds would open up and share their thoughts so people can be moved from within.

    Sometimes I think some people, me included, do not care to open up because they are now sure of what they have inside.

    Reading you makes me realize what role one can choose to have to make a difference.

    Please keep it up

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  10. Erratum

    Sometimes I think some people, me included, do not care to open up because they are now sure of what they have inside.

    THIS SHOULD READ:

    Sometimes I think some people, me included, do not care to open up because they are not sure of what they have inside.

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