By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff – September 28, 2o17
Technology and faith join hands to create an application for iPhone and Android phones called myParish. The app enables parishioners connect with their parish on the go, build stronger Catholic communities and more easily engage in evangelization and ministry. On Sept. 30, parishes throughout the Diocese of Orlando participated in “Download Sunday”, helping their communities stay connected.
With technology moving at a rapid rate and the demands of everyday life pressing in, it has become increasingly difficult to foster faith and stay linked to church communities. This year, in order to reach more Catholics with a message of hope and trust, the Diocese of Orlando is offering each of its parishes and missions the ability to download myParish App free of charge. To date, almost half of the parishes are already actively using the application.
Created by Diocesan and Trinity Publications, the app offers a multitude of options and customization choices. Spearheaded by parochial vicar Father John McCracken, St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Wildwood has been using myParish app since last October to unite his 5,000 parishioners. “myParish app is a wonderful way for parishioners to stay connected to the parish,” said Father McCracken. “It helps foster community at our parish, and is an efficient and effective communication tool. This tool is especially helpful to communicate items that change last minute, such as road detours and any last-minute changes in schedules.”
He explained that the parish “…sends out reminders and notifications to all individuals who have registered with the app. Many have it on their phones, and they can view the homilies and bulletins in addition to the featured available icons.” The app “contains a wealth of information, from today’s readings, an examination of conscience, a guide to confession, prayers and inspiration materials,” he said.
New features introduced this year, born out of the partnership between the diocese and Diocesan Publications, include ways for parishioners to stay connected with Bishop Noonan and the Diocese of Orlando, including buttons for Bishop’s Twitter feed, E-scroll (the weekly diocesan newsletter), the Faith Fit Health App with daily inspirational messages, and Faith Fit Radio with podcasts from local Catholic leaders. Bishop Noonan will also send messages through the app to connect with his flock.
Parishioners Connie and Steve Accurso agreed that their favorite feature is the “Push Messages”. “The messages help keep everyone informed of special events occurring as well as notification of last minute changes. “We personally request push messages on our Donut and Coffee Sunday event which is very helpful,” said Connie. The bulletin and homilies are customized to each parish and many parishioners.
Steve uses the app several times a week, whenever he notices a push message or to look up the bulletin to answer questions. Connie uses it almost daily for the examination of conscience, prayers, reflections and the occasional homily. Although they were already quite involved in parish activities and ministry, they both noted “it has made us feel more informed on a more regular basis because of the messaging aspect.”
Other features include MassMode which provides easy-to-set reminders, online giving, confession schedules, and the latest in Catholic news. There is also a “Groups” option allowing ministries to stay in touch and have discussions.
“Many parishioners who travel, or who are ill, love to watch the homilies, so they stay connected with the parish family,” noted Father McCracken. “A picture of our church altar was placed on the app as the background picture. The app is such a blessing to our parish family.”
For more information, go to myParishapp.com or download the app on your Smart Phone by going to the App Store or Google play.