We removed USCCB Catholic Church App from must-have list. Here is why

UPDATE – This app which was paid for with your contributions to the communications arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is now defunct.

To maintain the integrity of Catholic APPtitude’s “Must-Have” Catholic App list, we unceremoniously removed USA Catholic Church App (Free) Apple | Android from our list of recommendations. On this day, the Vatican released the latest Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis: Gaudete et exsultate (On the call to holiness in today’s world). Vatican News had it. EWTN News had it. Any web site with a Catholic news feed widget had it. My parish’s Facebook page had it. USA Catholic Church App … crickets.

One would think that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ all-inclusive, everything-concerning-the-Church app (as the title suggests), would have this story with a link to the document ready to go for us this morning. Nope.

But the anemic and unresponsive-to-the-world offerings in this app extend beyond this morning’s miss. Launched to coincide with Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in September 2015, the bishops attempted to bundle parishes and (arch)dioceses across the United States—even the Vatican—into one, single mobile resource. We were supposed to get comprehensive coverage on news of concern to Catholics from the Vatican and Catholic News Service (including CNS videos). This

Introducing the Catholic Church app

Launched in Sept. 2015

ambitious app was designed to be of service to every Catholic in the United States–all 75 million of us–with the ability to communicate to us right down to the parish level (with its built-in church finder).

It’s ok for use as a church finder if you’re traveling, (and other apps offer that service) but the news is just a feed from their Catholic News Service (which other Catholic apps carry) and some original content from the US Bishops (documents and commentary, for example – which is good to have). It was supposed to connect with we US Catholics in a much more substantive way, and that is precisely why we included it in our must-have list.  For example, back in 2015, we were impressed with the coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Each and every time he spoke or there was a major event about to take place, this app posted a notification on our iPhone’s locked screen with alerts. Within two clicks, we were watching the pope on live video from a smart phone! The English language translation and commentary given during live-streaming video as the pope spoke was clear, timely, intelligent and respectful. That service worked in splendid fashion, and served as a promise for a bright future for this app reaching out to engage the mobile-using world. But then this app just sort of sputtered and chocked in what it offered and what it served (note the distinction!)

Take a look under the “Events” tab today. It opens to a blank screen with the message: “No results were found” along with the official USCCB copyright imprint below that. Now, what kind of message does that send to the world? To U.S. Catholics? And that tab has been blank for a LONG time. The thing only has six tabs. “Events” is one of them. The people operating this app cannot find one single solitary event of interest to Catholics going on in the entire United States of America? Here’s an event they can post:  Our BasilicaFEST is June 9-10, 2018 in Olean, NY.

Ok. So far I’ve covered 5 major links in the main menu:

  • Pope Francis (crickets on today’s big news),
  • Parish/Diocese church finder (we can get that in other apps)
  • News (I can find in other apps that actually carry today’s big news)
  • Daily Mass Readings (easily found in many other Catholic apps that have other useful resources bundled in their offerings)
  • Church finder (offered on other Catholic apps as well)

Now for the “Resource” link in the main menu…The “photo galleries” link displayed Christmas content during the Easter season…from 2017!!!. “Books” link offers two books: the Bible (which takes you to an article explaining what a Bible is); and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which takes you to an article explaining what the Catechism is) egads!  Aside from the fact that those resources are available on several free apps out there, or available as links to text or  links to purchase as an e-book or sent to you in print format, that tab fizzles as well.

So what are we left with after exhaustively examining this app that has had three long years to develop into a useful and practical tool of evangelization and connection with US Catholics? The price is free– it’s sole redeeming factor. (Ok, we like the original USCCB documents too) [A web version of USA Catholic Church app is here if you want to take in a large-format view]. It’s available in English and Spanish.

This brings me to my final beef concerning this app. It is simply a WASTE of an important app name: USA Catholic Church. Make it what was promised or release that valuable name to someone else who will carry on the mission.  We don’t want to hear the excuses. And they can’t claim that money (“allocating resources”) has been an issue because I do this type of work for FREE all the time. Go out there and find someone who loves the Church in the United States who has the time and wherewithal to dump some effort into this valuable communication platform. Please. [See: USCCB Catholic Communication Campaign]

On this Solemnity of the Annunciation, we ask the USCCB to say “yes” to making this app what they promised to deliver three years ago.

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Categories: Blog for Catholic Apptitude

Author:Jennifer Kane

Content Evangelist, Jennifer Kane, is a secular Carmelite (OCDS), wife, mother, grandmother and avid Catholic app user who worked for many years in marketing/communications holding degrees in Journalism/Communication (BA) and English (MA) from St. Bonaventure University. She authored the Vatican application for minor basilica status in 2016 for The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Olean, New York from which stemmed the history book of the basilica, A Place Set Apart. She previously authored the book, A Worthy and Capable Clergyman, the second part of this book in a slightly different format. She is founder and editor of the website, CatholicApptitude.org, a blog cataloging/reviewing Catholic apps for mobile devices. What began as an e-mail service to priests and seminarians looking for quality Catholic apps for mobile devices has grown into this world-wide community of Catholic app enthusiasts looking for and recommending great Catholic apps.

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2 Comments on “We removed USCCB Catholic Church App from must-have list. Here is why”

  1. James Wisds
    April 9, 2018 at 2:31 pm #

    As a committed catholic, I am aware that church is a ponderous, powerful organization guided by the Holy Sprit, a lot of saints in the making and a few holier- than-thou knuckleheads.
    I am sure that in the end, we catholics, with encouragement from people, like yourself, to the USCCB, will have a SUPERIOR finished app to guide us to heaven, after a while. God bless you for your efforts!!

  2. April 10, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

    I read this app dailyI think we need Catholic apps like thid

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