You want to go to Christmas Mass this week but don’t know which Catholic church to attend? You’re not alone. Research shows that as many as half of all Catholics in the United States aren’t actively involved in a parish. The app, One Parish, is designed to help connect Catholics with a parish, even if it’s a virtual one!
First, let’s talk about the real parish you’re looking for. Open One Parish [(Free) iOS and Android] and a geo-locator map shows all the Catholic churches in your area. The app insists that you choose a parish before your proceed any further. Once you are connected to a parish, it’s YOURS (unless you wish to change it, which is easy to do). In your parish’s portal, you have all the information you need to start engagement–most notably a Mass schedule, contact information and a link to the parish web site. Because this app is relatively new, not all parishes are up and running with other elements on the app like a parish directory and pastor’s message. But the information at hand is quick to find, and you should have what you need to select a place and time for Christmas Mass. Do double-check with the parish web site for accurate schedules as many parishes do not keep updated with the national program (Mass Times) which collects their data.
Of course, it is important to go beyond your Christmas experience. Or perhaps you already are engaged with your local parish but are looking for something to help deepen your faith life or get more involved with the parish community. That’s where the educational elements of One Parish come in to help. Hit the “Daily Faith” tab and you’ll get Mass Readings and Saint of the Day information. Enjoy listening to or watching video of enriching homilies and reflections from the popular Word on Fire ministries. Perhaps the pastor at your parish posted a reflection–he can do that through this app if his parish is connected. And you can listen to Catholic Talk Radio programming and read Twitter messages from Pope Francis (even if you don’t have a Twitter account). While there are other apps out there with more faith content, this one gathers components of actual parish life with an actual faith community that is meaningful to you. If your parish is affiliated with One Parish, you will see detailed content on the families involved in that church, the parish’s calendar of events, a means of making your donation through the app’s donation portal and much more.
I had a chance to talk with a One Parish representative a while back who noted that even if you aren’t ready to commit to a parish, you can use the one you choose on this app as your virtual parish! That’s at least a start. Get to know that community by the content they post. Explore your Catholic faith in some of the content offered and, of course, stop in to the brick-and-mortar building for a visit, especially during Mass times.
If you want your parish to become affiliated (at no cost) to One Parish, make that suggestion to your pastor or parish council representative to visit the web site to get more information. You can refer your parish on the web site as well.
Do you know of someone reluctant to walk into a Catholic church? You may want to suggest this app to help them explore local parishes and read some good material as they think of your invitation.
This Christmas there are no excuses. If you’re looking for a Catholic church to enjoy the beauty, splendor and mystery of Christ’s birth, you’ve got an app willing to help.