Culture of Life
iCatholic: Faith-Enriching Apps and Online Tools
BY Joseph Pronechen
Register Staff Writer
August 1-14, 2010 Issue | Posted 7/23/10 at 11:42 AM
Pray the Rosary or the Breviary, or even read Magnificat on your phone. Listen to a daily reflection or a priest’s homily with apps and podcasts.
With Catholic offerings for iPhone, iPad, iPod and iTunes, you can carry Catholic content wherever you go. That’s just part of all the faith-focused resources online.
In his message for World Communications Day in May, Pope Benedict XVI said new media can aid “our digital age to sense the Lord’s presence, to grow in expectation and hope, and to draw near to the Word of God.”
Father Jay Finelli, pastor of Holy Ghost Church in Tiverton, R.I., is already doing that with his new iPadre app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. He’s no newcomer to using cutting-edge technology to spread the faith. In 2005 he launched iPadre.net podcasts (on the Web and iTunes), which have logged more than 596,000 downloads.
His app, short for “application,” is one of more than 200,000 available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad from Apple.com. Some are free; most have nominal charges.
“The Church always uses the latest technology that’s available to spread the Gospel,” says Father Finelli. “This is our way to reach out and show what we have to offer.”
He reaches out with his own commentary and has bishop and priest guests talk on subjects like vocations, theology of the body and the Real Presence.
The Vatican is getting into the app movement too.
The first iPhone app from the Vatican was launched by the Vatican Observatory Foundation on Easter Sunday. “Daily Sermonettes With Father Mike Manning” provides Father Manning’s inspiring messages of faith from Scripture and how to apply them to daily life (DailySermonettes.com).
The Vatican Pontifical Council for Social Communications has also approved the iBreviary app (iBreviary.com and iTunes), which is available in five languages.
For daily Mass readings and prayers, Magnificat recently launched their Magnificat app.
Among several Rosary apps, the latest is “The Rosary Miracle Prayer” from Pauline Books & Media, an apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul (RosaryMiraclePrayer.spruz.com). The Catholic media company also has a “Saint a Day” app.
The Rosary app helps users meditate on the mysteries with beautiful images: stained-glass windows, icons and religious art. A bonus: hymns by the Daughters of St. Paul Choir.
“The pictures and sound can really give us a whole refreshing way to pray,” says Pauline Sister Kathryn James Hermes, director of the media company’s e-publishing. “It makes a cathedral, a sacred space, wherever you are.”
Scripture passages are included and there are links to share prayer intentions and personal stories. (The Rosary app is also coming out for the Android phone.)
“For us, it wasn’t a question of if we do apps, but a question of how fast we got up and running,” says Sister Kathryn James. “That’s where God needs to be.” In development: an iMissal and an app of Psalms and prayers.
Another visual prayer application is the Stations of the Cross app from Ave Maria Press. The iPieta app (iPieta.com) has numerous traditional prayers.
Boston’s CatholicTV has an iPhone app which allows users to watch daily Mass. (Naturally, this does not fulfill your Sunday obligation to attend Mass.)
The app includes a Rosary that was filmed in different locations like the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Current Catholic news from Rome Reports is also available. (Go to iTunes.com’s App Store.)
MassTimes.org also has an app.
“The phone knows where you are, and the app knows where you are,” says Rob Corzine, vice president of programs for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. “It will show the nearest churches, their schedules and directions to them from where you are located at that moment.”
No mobile devices? You still have lots of possibilities. Scott Hahn’s SalvationHistory.com offers free audio courses by Hahn and others, like lessons on the Gospel of John, plus Hahn’s reflection on Sunday Mass readings and dozens of hours of audio features.
If you miss your favorite shows on Eternal Word Television Network, you can still download them to your computer for free on iTunes.
Cardinal Francis Arinze’s engaging podcasts and webcasts are available free at Familyland.org (and through iTunes).
Another online faith resource is MyCatholicFaithDelivered.com, which partners with Ignatius Press, Midwest Theological Forum, and Ascension Press.
The media-rich lessons are geared for all ages and include links to other websites, podcasts and blogs.
Barbara Burgoon of My Catholic Faith Delivered says that providing solid Catholic content using an engaging online format should be part of the New Evangelization. “We were led by the Holy Spirit to partner with people already evangelizing,” she says. “We want to help them take it a step further and reach people they might not be reaching.”
CatholicQuiz.com helps children and young people learn faith in a fun way through a dozen games and quizzes that deal with Catholic traditions, the Bible, saints, sacraments, prayer, history and more. Most content has an imprimatur.
Then there’s Father Robert Barron’s WordonFire.org, with links to his videos and sermon downloads/podcasts (also via iTunes).
Matthew Warner, a regular blogger for the Register at NCRegister.com and on his own site, FallibleBlogma.com, says Catholic new media is just starting.
“We Catholics shouldn’t get caught simply following the trends we are handed by pop culture,” he says. “We can learn a lot from others, but we also have our own unique application for these powerful tools. Let’s continue to think outside the box. Let’s employ them in our own, novel, distinctively Catholic way.”
“It’s exciting to think about all of the innovative possibilities out there that apply the use of Internet technologies to the work of the Church and the sharing of the Gospel,” Warner says. “In the Church, we have the most compelling and important story in the world. It will be extremely powerful once we are telling that story using the full capacity of the tools God has put at our disposal.”
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
Check out Matthew Warner’s ongoing series “Catholics in New Media.”
The Station of the Cross (EWTN Catholic Radio Network affiliate) iCatholicRadio: new application for the iPhone, iTouch and iPad. This first-ever Catholic radio application, available on iTunes, offers the full EWTN lineup.
Priests for Life iPhone app: http://www.priestsforlife.org/prolifeliturgicalresources/
Faith-filled text messages.
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