“Communication. Information. Inspiration.”
Mark Clark, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, summed up in three words the benefits of myParish App, the newest tech tool available for Island Catholics. With a touch of the small blue button downloaded onto a mobile device, myParish App instantly delivers Mass and Confession times, prayers, Scriptures, messages from your parish priest and more.
According to Clark, more than half of Hawaii’s 66 parishes have already signed up for myParish App. Mainland media company Diocesan and Trinity Publications has generously provided a grant of more than $50,000 to the Diocese of Honolulu, allowing local parishes to try its myParish App service for free in 2017.
Clark and diocesan adult faith formation coordinator Kristina DeNeve have been aiding parishes since late last year in customizing their own myParish App content.
On June 4, Pentecost Sunday, parishes already on myParish App are encouraged to launch an official push to promote the app to their congregations. Dubbed “Download Sunday,” June 4 will mark the first milestone in this latest effort to merge evangelization with easy-to-use technology.
Spreading the Word
Faith formation coordinator DeNeve said the idea to introduce myParish App in Hawaii came last October, when she and Clark attended the International Catholic Stewardship Council Conference in New Orleans. There they met staff from Diocesan and Trinity Publications, a company with a longstanding reputation for quality church communications tools.
DeNeve explained that myParish App fits with Bishop Larry Silva’s pastoral plan, “Stewards of the Gospel.” The plan outlines for Island faithful ways to make God’s Word accessible to everyone around them. This mission is emphasized in Scripture in Matthew 28:19 — “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations … ”
“Evangelization is taking place less and less by sitting in the pew,” DeNeve said. An app “connects parishioners to one another and their faith throughout the week, not just on Sunday.”
Stewardship and development director Clark said that throughout the diocese, “one of the biggest challenges is communication.” Parish bulletins and diocesan newspapers continue to serve great purposes, but further outreach requires tapping into modern-day means of disseminating and filtering information.
Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron, in a talk at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa this past January, underscored the importance of “using the new media.” He and Pope Francis are two of the most-followed Catholic figures in the mobile-media world. The myParish App service aims to leverage that kind of widespread accessibility with faith formation here in Hawaii.
“It’s an extremely low-cost ministry that’s every effective,” DeNeve said.
The main features of myParish App are displayed in big buttons on a parish’s home screen. After searching for your parish by name or location, it’s easy to view upcoming parish calendar events, or engage in online giving and discussions with parish groups. Parish contact info, Confession and Mass schedules, and even church bulletins are accessible as well.
Daily readings, Catholic prayers, homilies from Bishop Silva, Bishop Barron and others are available on the app. Stories from Catholic News Service and the Hawaii Catholic Herald are updated constantly. Fresh content is also provided from Immaculate Heart Radio.
These features are kept robust with little or no work needed from Island pastors and parish staff.
“It allows the app to be current without being a high-maintenance thing,” DeNeve said.
Clark highlighted three steps to get a parish onboard with myParish App: initial sign up, then a free trial for this year, followed by a paid maintenance plan of $35 a month beginning in 2018.
Parishes receive a “launch kit” with myParish App promotional materials valued at more than $200.
The app itself is free for anyone to download and use anytime, anywhere, on your favorite “smart device.”
Father Arnold Ortiz, pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Aiea, said more than 500 parishioners there have already downloaded myParish App. Analytics data shows that about 350 users refer to the app each week.
“I think it’s a great tool, very user friendly,” Father Ortiz said. “I only spend a few minutes each week uploading the weekly parish bulletin, updating the events calendar and sending twice weekly message alerts out to parishioners.”
“I would highly recommend pastors and parishes to consider using the app as another tool for forming a more strongly united parish with the ultimate goal of forming more faith-filled souls,” he added.
Mike DiCosola has been the mainland liaison from Diocesan and Trinity Publications working with the Diocese of Honolulu on launching myParish App. He hopes Island Catholics will “have fun” on “Download Sunday,” June 4.
“In a mobile, digital age, we are called to be salt and light where people are present and listening,” DiCosola said. “All it takes is one or two push notifications a week to keep people informed, inspired and engaged in using myParish App to practice Catholic life every day.”
‘Download Sunday’: June 4
Here’s how to get myParish App:
- Send a text with the word “App” to the number 88202
- iPhone, iPad or Apple device users: Open the App Store. Android users and other mobile platforms: Open Google Play or your preferred media/app provider.
- Type “myParish App” in the search bar. Click and download.
- Once the app is downloaded, search for your parish page by name, location or zip code.
- Contact Mark Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kristina DeNeve (email@example.com) for questions.