March 13, 2015

Terre Haute Deanery faith community reaches out through parish app

This is the app for Annunciation Parish in Brazil. Users of the app can quickly scan the parish’s calendar, reflect on daily Mass readings and watch videos of homilies by Father John Hollowell, the parish’s pastor. (Submitted photo)

This is the app for Annunciation Parish in Brazil. Users of the app can quickly scan the parish’s calendar, reflect on daily Mass readings and watch videos of homilies by Father John Hollowell, the parish’s pastor. (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

BRAZIL—Easter is often a feast in the Church year when many non-practicing Catholics will return to Mass for the first time in months, if not years.

Some parishes have sought to attract such visitors on these occasions back to a more full participation in the life of the Church.

Annunciation Parish in Brazil launched this week a software application, popularly known as an “app,” in part to reach out to such non-practicing Catholics, said Father John Hollowell, pastor of the Terre Haute Deanery faith community.

The app will quickly allow people who download it to their smart phones or tablets to see the parish calendar, read daily Mass readings, make an appointment with Father Hollowell or view videos of his homilies and other videos about the sacraments.

“One of the potential benefits of the app is to draw in parishioners who have fallen away from the faith,” Father Hollowell said. “If they download the app, they may be more likely to explore and watch a video or read an article, and thus hopefully come home to the Church. Also, visitors to the parish and those looking to learn more about our parish will have something to explore on their phones as well.”

The app was designed by Albuquerque, N.M.-based web developer Sue Jiron, who specializes in creating apps for parishes and dioceses. Information about her work can be found at churchapplady.com.

Father Hollowell noted that while Annunciation Parish’s website had been adapted to work well on smart phones and tablets, an app made connecting people to the parish’s online presence easier.

“If you pulled up the calendar on the website on a phone, you’d have to do some navigating, zooming in and out and clicking on days,” he said. “With the app, the day’s events just pop right up. We wanted to make things as user-friendly as possible.”

He also said that the development of the app was a recognition of the growing use of smart phones and tablets throughout society.

“You have to go where the people are at,” Father Hollowell said. “People are craving community. And a lot of times they’re seeking that community electronically. And so, I think we’re trying to do what we can to provide another way for our parish to be more like a family and to be more connected with each other.”

Annunciation parishioner Heidi Spugnardi downloaded an early experimental version of the app and liked it.

“It’s extremely helpful,” she said. “You can hit a button and make an appointment to see Father [Hollowell] without making a phone call. You can hit a button and see what the [Mass] readings are. Everything’s right there.”
 

(A link to the software application for Annunciation Parish in Brazil can be found at annunciationbrazil.org.)

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