Access your parish with a single tap using a Parish App

Let’s first clear up an objection to parish apps: Doesn’t the parish web site offer everything an app can offer? No. A grocery store has everything you need food-wise, but to grab a loaf of bread, do you really want to go through the hassle of traveling, parking and navigating the store?  Think “convenience store” when you think of a parish app. It offers all the basics conveniently (and speedily) packaged in a single app that is a mere click away on your mobile device.

You ask: Do I really need a parish app?  YES.  We’re going to walk you through the most popular one in the United States aptly titled, My Parish App (Free) Apple | Android  by Diocesan Publications. We chose this app because it is the only one that is not specifically branded to a particular parish and because its many Catholic resources are open to anyone who downloads it. Think of it as another valuable Catholic resource app you’ll want to use anyway. If your parish participates and includes its information (and it should), that’s an added bonus! This is the app we use at our parish (3 years), and we just don’t know how we ever got along without it.

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Banner is included in your parish promo package

My Parish App is unique from other parish apps in the market in that it uses a single platform with member parishes tapping in to create a community, so to speak. (That keeps the participation cost down for the parish). So, it’s not a custom branded product. While it does have customizable features your parish can add or subtract (including an opening splash page with your parish’s photo and name), it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles containing specific items a fully branded app provides. But what it does provide are the basics that most app users will actually engage when they open and explore.

People want one-click Mass times, latest news (including weather cancellations), one-click access to the bulletin, parish contacts with one-click phone dial or email links to specific people, events listings, and Mass readings. The ability for your parish to send you push notifications that pop up on your device’s little screen is a valuable asset for you and for the parish. This year alone, our parish community got notice of the sudden death of our deacon, the late-breaking news of the naming of our new pastor, the announcement of a special city zoning board meeting affecting a new homeless shelter we are trying to support; last-minute volunteer needs; even parking restrictions around the church with this latest snow storm. Along the way we received short inspirational messages and got a kick out of creative Friday morning meatless reminders during Lent (We’re going to include meatless dinner recipes this year!)

But in addition to that, My Parish App also offers you the chance to engage other areas of your faith life outside of going to Mass on Sunday. This is where parish apps in general earn their place in taking up valuable real estate on your phone or tablet’s screen.

img_3328Even if your parish doesn’t participate, you can use My Parish App to access great resources during the week. Tap the Prayers icon to reveal a substantial listing of traditional Catholic prayers in several categories. You’ll appreciate the ability to set prayer reminders on your device. (Mine is set to 3:00PM each day). The audio rosary is enhanced with reflections by a priest who rather dramatically punctuates the heart of the mystery he helps you to explore. Personal faith formation covers the sacraments and other elements of our religion in short (“3-minute theology”) easy to understand presentations via text, audio or video–lots of interesting stuff you probably missed in catechism class dozens of years ago. Inspirational and helpful articles explore living our Catholic faith in a world which operates on principles so contrary to it. Little kids will enjoy Brother Francis songs, coloring print-outs and cartoons that grandma has on her phone!

confessionscreenshot-myparishappMy Parish App also concentrates on a specific arena of our faith life: Confession. This resource (important to your very salvation) includes a step-by-step guide, detailed examination of conscience based on the Ten Commandments, and the Act of Contrition prayer. But in addition, the app reminds you to go to Confession each time you open up to the main screen (you can set up a personalized schedule). If your parish participates, this is where you’ll see its posted Confession times.

If you’re traveling, My Parish App is a great resource to locate other participating parishes near you (if you choose location services at set-up). So in two clicks, you have the church, location, Mass times and its bulletin. If the list is inadequate, just click the Mass Finder icon which gives you immediate access to DiscoverMass.com where you can locate Catholic churches nearest to you and explore their web sites to get the info you need.

img_2196-1Other resources/features on My Parish App include:

Messages – Favorite, share or reply to messages from your parish. Target specific groups. (Most of our prayer requests come from this source).
Calendar – View or share time and location of upcoming parish events and RSVP when relevant or add to your phone’s calendar.
Homilies – Listen to or read weekly homilies provided by your parish. (Our parish links to Bishop Barron homily videos and adds our own video homilies from our own historic occasions).
News – The latest Catholic news from your parish or around the world (provided by the Catholic News Agency).
Giving – Easily access your parish’s online giving.
Mass Times – All Mass times for the week with MassMode™ time or location reminders to silence your phone before Mass. Discover.com Mass times is available if needed.
Prayers – Full list of traditional Catholic prayers with the ability to set reminders for any of them or your own daily prayer time. Also submit prayer requests to your parish.
Bulletins – View this week’s and past bulletins from your parish.

Support has been outstanding in terms of their answering the phone on practically the first ring and making sure we are updated on the back end. Inspirational resources for Advent and Lent are available for parishes to include as additional icons on their home screen. Parishes can pick and choose which resources they want on their app. The list of offerings has expanded in the three years we have used the app. Promotional materials to get you started are first class.

While the app is completely free for users, parish (or Catholic institution) participation can be FREE if the parish already subscribes to other Diocesan Publications media outlets like the printed bulletin. But if not, the service comes at an investment of $49/month with a $199 set-up fee. That’s about half of what other parish app services charge. Again, you don’t get all the customization features they offer like parish photo galleries, in-depth faith formation resources, a logo on every page. But the value of having the essential elements along with some engaging resources makes it worth a look.

Here’s a brief video showing how to download and start using My Parish App.

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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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