The popular Instagram channel may soon expand to television, as several stations have expressed interest in this charismatic priest.
A young Franciscan priest is making waves on social media with brief videos that explain the Gospel. Father Luis Antonio Salazar, from Venezuela, is taking his priestly duties of religious education out of the confines of Sunday Mass and bringing them to Instagram, where he guides the faith of his 117,000 followers.
In his video series, called Vivir el Evangelio or Living the Gospel, Fr. Salazar focuses on important world issues of the day and relates them to the Gospels. His preaching covers subjects like the Commandments, migrants, abortion, and much more. The videos, usually about a minute long, have become incredibly popular thanks to Fr. Salazar’s youthful exuberance and undeniable charisma.
Describing himself as a “Catholic Influencer,” Fr. Salazar, 34, has grown his social media account from 5,000 followers to nearly 120,000 since 2018. In an interview with Manuel Rueda, of Catholic News Service, the Capuchin said:
“The motive behind this is to help people understand the Gospel. I want to take those stories that happened 2,000 years ago with the pharisees, the scribes and the rest of the characters in the Bible and show people what they teach us about being good Christians.”
In Venezuela, the people have responded well to him, but his digital ministry is reaching other Spanish-speaking countries, which is really bolstering his viewership. Fr. Salazar noted that some people who watch his videos are so taken with him that they contact him with very personal issues, hoping for prayers or advice. The Franciscan helps them all, however, be it guiding a catechist to teach the Old Testament, or comforting those who struggle against depression.
His selfless nature does not stop in his internet pulpit, however, as he is known to march with protesters when they demonstrate against the Venezuelan government. Rueda notes that Luis is easily spotted in the crowd in his brown Franciscan robes; he often cares for demonstrators who have been subjected to gas.
Between teaching the faithful and standing with the people, one might assume that Fr. Salazar wouldn’t have time for much else. Still, he finds time to run a soup kitchen that serves hot meals to as many as 800 people per day. Rueda reports that these meals are served on real plates with silverware to remind those who are down on their luck that they still maintain their human dignity.
Fr. Salazar’s good works may be expanding soon. The young priest is in talks with no fewer than five television stations from the United States and Brazil, who wish to pick up his Living the Gospel video series. If this goes forward, then his lessons will be translated to English and Portuguese and broadcast to a much larger audience.