A priest who became a viral sensation during lockdown has urged his fellow clergymen to leave TikTok to young people.
Fr Pat Ward, from Arranmore Island in Co Donegal, was named an inspirational hero in the Gala and Virgin Media Inspiration Awards for his inventive online masses.
After he started livestreaming his masses back in March due to pandemic restrictions, Fr Pat quickly drew a large following from all over the world, with upwards of 2,000 people tuning in.
He told the PA news agency: “I do feel that we’ve kind of flattened Facebook a wee bit for some people, because every Sunday mass is all over Facebook.”
He added: “I kind of feel that TikTok is for young people. We shouldn’t invade their space. We’ve driven them out of Facebook already.
“They find it boring because old people are on trying to be funny.
“Young people aren’t impressed by that kind of thing.
“I do have a TikTok account. I think it’s hilarious, a lot of it.
“Some people are really, really inventive with the things that they do.
“I do like going through it and wasting time watching it. But I honestly think it should be left for young ones.
“They need a space that’s not invaded by oldies.”
Fr Pat gained a following from all over the world for his livestreamed masses, including viewers in Norway, Australia and the US.
“We actually had to change the mass time to accommodate viewers in America because it was a bit early for them,” he said.
Combining meditation and prayer with humour and musical numbers on his ukulele, he quickly became an online hit.
He said: “The whole thing evolved from the beginning when the lockdown happened and there was nobody allowed in the chapel.
“It was very hard.
“I had never said mass on my own.
“Some priests do, when they don’t have a public mass they say one privately.
“But I tried it once and I was very uncomfortable with it.
“I didn’t know how to it.
“You know when you say ‘the Lord be with you’, do you say the answer back to yourself?
“But I did find that the camera was a help.
“I knew there was some people watching.”
“I was trying to talk calmly to people about the situation we were in.
“It kind of evolved then into meditation.
“Because I was on my own, I brought the ukulele just for company.
“People liked that too, and I made up a few songs, I made up an Our Father song and a few others.
“It just took off, people seemed to like it.
“People were telling each other about it and they seemed to feel that there was something in it for them.
“Something that calmed them in a time of uncertainty and they felt it was something that they needed. I was quite happy with that.”
Fr Pat was stunned to receive his inspirational hero award in November after being nominated by his parishioners.
He said: “It’s very embarrassing.
“Especially when there’s doctors and nurses doing their damnedest to save everybody’s lives.
“This kind of came out of the blue.
“It’s an honour but I really think there’s somebody else who deserves it.
“But I accepted it because it lifted my parish.
“The parishioners, they were chuffed. So for that reason I took it.”