Cup of catechism runneth over
The brief clip opens with a shot of piping hot coffee being poured into a mug, with two men greeting their audience with a “Magandang araw, mga kaparokya (Good day, fellow parishioners)” before engaging in friendly banter.
Welcome to Gospel online, where two young priests use Facebook to make religious reflections more relatable, less “churchy” and more candid to Catholic millennials.
“There are many reflection videos online, but we want to keep it light, easy to understand and brief,” said Fr. Kevin Crisostomo, 33.
The vlogs cater to Crisostomo’s parishioners at the St. Joseph Parish in Tambo, Parañaque City, and to those of his fellow host, Fr. John Francis “Fr. Jeff” Manlapig, 38, who handles the Holy Eucharist Parish in Moonwalk, Parañaque City.
The three-minute videos, edited by freelance photographer Ronnie Garcia, are uploaded regularly on the Facebook account of St. Joseph Parish Tambo, https://web.facebook.com/SJPTambo, which currently has 1,859 likes.
Although the hosts of “Kape at Kampay” tried to keep things light, informal and humorous, they were careful not to put on the hat of a comedian and forget their vocation, said Manlapig, chuckling.
“I remember a priest who spent 20 minutes of his homily cracking jokes, only to ask at the end what the theme was. The audience surely laughed, but did they remember any lesson from it?” he asked.
Said Crisostomo: “That is what makes ‘Kape at Kampay’ unique, our audience may laugh but they still have something to take home with them, something to reflect on.”
Their vlog venture began in August last year during a weeklong retreat for priests under the Diocese of Parañaque in South Korea.
Knowing that Crisostomo would be out of the country, his parishioners asked if he could give them daily reflections to ponder while he was away.
“Originally, I was taking a video of myself while giving a reflection for the day. But Fr. Jeff would butt in and discuss some points, as we clink our coffee mugs together and say, ‘kampay,’” he said of the format that they have since adopted.
The regular vlog on the parish’s Facebook page has the two priests discussing timely religious themes and creating three-point mnemonic devices or acronyms to help parishioners remember their main points.
The series, now on its third season, having aired 26 vlogs or 13 episodes per season, has attracted audiences from other parishes, said Crisostomo.
The two hosts rarely appear in their vlog in their priestly vestments, except for one episode shot after Crisostomo’s second anniversary as a priest in October.
“We want to show that we are not totally different or detached from our parishioners, that we are in tune with reality,” Crisostomo said.
The beta episode aired on Aug. 22, with providence as the theme. In the vlog, Manlapig and Crisostomo reflected on three P’s: providence, being strong amid persecution and perseverance.
The Ash Wednesday vlog tackled 3 S’s: self-examination, sacrifice and surrender during the 40-day Lent.
The vlogs are thematic, with the Lenten theme dealing with self-examination, forgiveness, trust, giving and one’s purpose in life. The “Kape at Kampay’s” Lenten episodes, shot in the Holy Land, features Crisostomo visiting such religious places as the Mountain of Temptation, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dead Sea and so on.
Short attention span
Some episodes, however, do not involve reflections, but parish announcements done with a twist. During the Samyang spicy noodle craze in 2017, Crisostomo and some of the parish’s scholars braved the spicy noodles while trying to recite the parish’s announcements.
Compressing the word of God in three minutes is no easy feat for these two priests, but it’s a good way to keep the focus of millennials infamous for their short attention span.
Familiarity with one’s target audience is part of being aware of what’s happening around and helps one to come up with a good and engaging reflection, said Manlapig.
“Sometimes I see a viral video on social media, or I hear what the youths are discussing these days. You begin to see the connections to the word of God. Sometimes God just whispers it,” he said of the inspirations behind his vlog.
Added Manlapig: “The reflections that we give are actually the reflections that hit us the most.”
“Sometimes age-old equations don’t fit anymore. We try to appeal to millennials using a new language—old message, but new means. It’s an eternal message expressed in a new way and vigor,” he said.
“People think that Facebook is only for fun. Our approach is not to be too serious, but to evangelize in a way that the downtime of netizens on Facebook will be worthwhile,” said Crisostomo.
Indeed, the two agreed, there’s more to social media than just entertainment, sports, or fake news.
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