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#ConventLife, TikTok Nuns go viral

#NunTok has gone viral. What is it?

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Nuns and other guests take photos and reach toward Pope Benedict.

Nuns and other guests take photos and reach toward Pope Benedict in this file photo.

Seth Wenig, Associated Press

Scrolling on TikTok, you might be surprised to come across #NunTok. With more than 27 million views, #NunTok has gone viral.

“I keep telling the other sisters, ‘Get on TikTok!’ If we’re hidden, we’re going to die out,” Sister Monica Clare told The New York Times. Sister Monica Clare is an Episcopal nun who runs the account @nunsenseforthepeople, which has well over 160,000 followers and 1.4 million likes. Before joining the convent, she performed in an acoustic rock duo and now she’s a viral TikToker.

She posts all kinds of videos: from detailing her convent life to dropping her skin care routine, Sister Monica Clare shows the complexity and reality of life in a convent. “We’re not just pious, uptight people. There’s joy and laughter, the full range of human experience,” she told The New York Times.

While religious life still remains dominated by men and women over the age of 60, TikTok is seen as a new frontier to increase visibility and to reach potential converts.

Sister Monica Clare is not the only nun to join the platform. Catholic Religious Sisters, often referred to as #MediaNuns, are in an order known as Daughters of St. Paul. This order is specifically set apart to evangelize using technology. Their TikTok account received media attention quickly as they went viral, according to The Economist. These nuns do more than just film their convent — they participate in lip syncing, pranks and viral dances. #MediaNuns currently has more than 22 million views on TikTok.

These nuns take their ministry seriously. Before going on silent retreats, Sister Lisa takes prayer requests from her 143,000 followers. She said, “As exhausting as it is, I’ve prayed for every single one of the commenters by name. Sometimes I don’t know their name, it’s user16575 saying, ‘pray for me.’ I have no idea who ‘me’ is, but the Lord knows.”

TikTok nuns have also captured the attention of former participants in the faith and offered them a glimpse into why nuns would choose to do what they do. Sadhbh O’Sullivan wrote for Refinery29, “While I’m not returning to the faith any time soon, Nun TikTok reminds me how affirming it can be. Finding the purpose that guides you, whether that’s faith and devotion to God or meaning through meaninglessness, seems key to navigating these tumultuous times.”