Beneath the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and amid the skirl of the Scottish bagpipes, Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh has unveiled what is thought to be the world’s first interactive, GPS-powered, Holy Mass and Confession finder app.
“This is a little bit of smart technology that could make a big impact on how the Catholic Church brings the mercy of God and the joy of the Gospel to our contemporary world,” said the Archbishop, Tuesday 23 November in Rome.
“The Catholic App” has been developed over recent months by the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh in conjunction with with Scottish technology company Musemantik. By simply pushing a button on their iPhone or tablet, the app user will be guided by GPS to their soonest or nearest Holy Mass or Confession.
“Websites are losing popularity – what is needed to engage with the mobile generation is an app that is smart and personal, an app that is like a companion, a friend that takes the initiative to inspire you – that’s the vision behind the Catholic App,” said Dr Maciej Zurawski, Founder and CEO of Musemantik.
The Edinburgh-based company now hopes that many other Catholic dioceses from around the world will purchase their new app with five other dioceses in Scotland already expressing a keen interest.
Archbishop Cushley was joined for the launch at the Vatican by Pipe Sergeant Mauro Nenci of the City of Rome Pipe Band and Monsignor Dario Viganò, Prefect of the Vatican’s newly created Secretariat for Communication.
“That’s why I’m sure that the Church in many other parts of the world will sit up and take note of this launch today.”
Archbishop Cushley is currently in Rome leading a pilgrimage to mark the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. On Sunday in St Peter’s Square, he received Pope Francis’s Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera from the Holy Father on behalf of the bishops of the world. The Archbishop previously worked for both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis as Head of the English Language Section of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.
“How fitting, how timely to be doing this launch just 24 hours after the publication of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter on mercy given that this app is, for me, a key legacy project of the Year of Mercy and a way of saying thank you to Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year itself.”
Also present at the launch in Rome were Father Jamie Boyle, a parish priest in Falkirk, Scotland, and Lisa Maria Purdie, a primary school head teacher in Livingston, Scotland.
“During the Jubilee Year of Mercy there was a discernible upturn in the number of people keen to return to Confession but not sure where or when to find it,” said Father Boyle, “this app will really help people to answer both those question and I hope parish priests around the world find it useful in evangelising their local communities.”
“Also, people often prefer to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to a priest they don’t know – for example, many folk travel to our big, town centre parish to go to Confession – and, so, this app makes it much easier to find that anonymity in another parish if you so choose,” concluded Father Boyle.
“Working day in and day out with young people I can see first hand how they consume information through their iPhones, iPads and tablets,” said Lisa Maria, Head Teacher of St Ninian’s Primary in Livingston.
“Therefore, if the Catholic Church wants to reach out to these young people, using an app like this one being launched today seems like a very smart, very sensible approach.”
The Catholic App will go live in early 2017. Musemantik hope that today’s high-profile – and noisy – launch in Rome will persuade other dioceses throughout the Catholic Church to purchase the app in the weeks to come.