Catholic apps make faith aids mobile
By Julie Filby
CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec
Consider starting the day praying the rosary or Divine Office with a smartphone in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other. “There’s an app for that”—to borrow the familiar catchphrase of electronics and software giant Apple.
Today’s technology offers Catholics many tools for praying, communicating and learning about their faith. One such tool comes in the form of “apps.” “Apps,” short for “applications,” are special software programs used on a smartphone and other mobile device such as the Android, iPhone, BlackBerry or iPad. Apps generally perform just one function, or provide some form of entertainment.
“Apps are a great way to put your message—quite literally—into your parishioners’ pockets or purses,” said Jeff Geerling, web developer and chief technology officer for flockNote, a parish communications company. “Apps that provide value and meaning to a Catholic can keep that person in touch … even if it’s something as simple as an app that displays recent news and allows a parishioner to listen to homilies or podcasts.”
While members of the younger generation used to be the primary users of apps, driving sales and popularity; today all age groups are using them.
“Your aunt, your grandpa and your cousins are using apps; and sharing apps they love,” he said. “It’s true there’s still a large population of the world that doesn’t have a smartphone, but by the end of this year about half the people in the United States will—that’s a pretty large audience!”
Those figures, as reported in a March 2010 survey released by The Nielsen Company, attributed the growth projection to falling prices, increasing capabilities, and the explosion of apps available for the devices.
“I’m excited about the opportunities given us by mobile technology and tablet computers,” said Geerling. “More people than ever are able to receive our messages of love, redemption and hope.
“We just need to make sure we are always there for people, those on the ‘digital continent,’ by having our content available in apps (and other sources),” he added.
Favorite Catholic apps
With input from Geerling—and Mark Hart, executive vice president of the popular youth ministry program, Life Teen International—the following list was compiled of their personal favorite apps, along with those they believe to be most widely used by Catholics.
“iPieta” (www.ipieta.com): Great one-stop shop for Catholics who want to grow in their faith. It includes the Bible, feast days, daily readings, devotions and prayers; writings of saints, popes and Church fathers, and Catholic commentaries.
“It’s perfect for people who want to go deeper,” said Hart. “A really handy wealth of Catholic information to have right in your hand.”
“Universalis” (www.universalis.com): A similar but less-robust alternative to iPieta. “It doesn’t take as much space,” explained Hart.
“New Mass” (www.TheFaithExplained.com): This app was designed to help prepare for changes to the Roman Missal by listing the current translation of prayers, the new translation (that will be implemented Nov. 27) and a brief explanation for the change. “A quick, but needed, app regarding the upcoming Missal changes,” according to Hart.
“iBreviaryTS” (www.ibreviary.com, site requires translation): Handy for anyone who prays the Liturgy of the Hours.\ “Carrying around your breviary (books) can get a little heavy and cumbersome, especially when traveling,” said Hart. “But this app puts the lauds, daytime prayers, vespers and compline right in your hand all day, every day.”
“Divine Office” (www.divineoffice.org): Comparable to “IBreviaryTS,” according to Geerling. “They took something that’s often cumbersome—praying the Liturgy of the Hours using four different books—and make it very easy to do,” he said.
Other apps on the list of favorites were: “Confession,” “iMissal,” “Catholic Mass Times,” “Catholic News Live,” “iRosary” and “Compendium of the Catechism.”
Some apps are free; many are as low as $.99-$3.99. Premium apps can run up to $20.