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Parishes go mobile to keep parishioners up-to-date

Screenshot of the myParish app Screenshot of the myParish app

LAKE STEVENS – Leaders at Holy Cross Parish were having trouble getting the word out to parishioners about events occurring each week.

“It seemed like people weren’t reading the bulletin,” said Annette Van Dyke, administrator at the Lake Stevens Parish. “We were looking for a different, easier way to get information out to people.”

Through the archdiocese’s office for stewardship and development, Van Dyke learned about the myParish app, which allows parishioners to access church news and information from their smart phones. Holy Cross Parish launched the mobile app Aug. 30.

MyParish, which costs the parish nearly $50 a month but is free for parishioners to download, offers bulletin and calendar items, parish information and an online giving option with a choice of funds. The parish can set up “push” notifications to parishioners’ phones throughout the week, and send messages to specific parish groups, Van Dyke said. Eventually, she hopes to publish weekly homilies on the app.

The parish is continuing to print the bulletin, because some people simply prefer paper, she said.

In the past 12 months, at least 17 parishes in Western Washington have implemented some kind of mobile app, said Steve Homiack, director of parish stewardship for the archdiocese. He didn’t know of any local parish using an app before that.

Mobile apps are “viable communications tools” that parishes can use in addition to forms such as Facebook, Twitter and bulletins, Homiack said. A mobile app adds a way parishes can communicate about events such as funerals and special Masses scheduled throughout the week, he said.

Parishes in the archdiocese typically are using myParish, designed by Diocesan Publications, or Catholic Parish Apps, designed by Our Sunday Visitor, Homiack said.

Besides parish-specific features, myParish includes other ways to connect with the faith, from daily Mass readings and prayers to a confession guide that includes an examination of conscience checklist.

At St. Patrick Parish in Tacoma, 159 of 1,000 parishioners have downloaded the myParish app that was introduced at the beginning of the year, said Sandra Kuharic, pastoral assistant for evangelization and engagement.

She is planning ways to encourage more parishioners to download the app. One idea is a “download Sunday” tied to sacrificial giving, with staff on hand before and after Mass to guide parishioners through the download process.

St. Patrick’s leaders aim to send out an item every day. “It helps create a constant presence in parishioners’ lives,” Kuharic said.

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