If you need to find a Catholic church and you’re out on the road, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has an app for you.
In the latest example of an ancient institution deploying the latest technology, the Archdiocese says a free iPhone app is available that will display all the nearest Catholic churches and, if desired, show directions to the church.
“We wanted to develop a tool for the website and for the iPhone that makes it easy for Catholics to locate any of our parishes, particularly those along their commute route after work,” Scot Landry, the archdiocesan secretary for Catholic Media said in a statement.
The tool might come in handy, officials said, for Catholics during the church’s Advent season push to get Catholics to come to confession.
The archdiocese is repeating its “The Light Is On For You” campaign from Lent, urging people to take the sacrament of penance on the evenings of Dec. 15 and Dec. 22.
“Our research from Lent indicated that many of the 30,000 Catholics went to confessions at a parish different from their home parish,” Landry said. “The iPhone app is wonderful, as a Catholic can push one button that will show all the nearby parishes immediately.”
“What we’re trying to do is just make it easier to find these parishes,” he said in a telephone interview.
So what’s a Catholic with a Droid phone to do?
Never fear. Landry said in a telephone interview that eventually the archdiocese would make Droid apps, but it began with the iPhone app because it already had experience with making iPhone apps that let people read the church’s Pilot newspaper or watch clips from Catholic TV.
The app is called Pilot Catholic Directory
Quite cool and the app is fairly interesting. You can even search by Language and “Extraordinary Form” is an option to filter your search. It includes contact information, Mass times, and can use your current location to map you to where a parish is.
On the minus side the app requires Wi-Fi/3G to work and so iPod Touch users can only use it when you have Wi-Fi available. Not a problem for iPhone users though. The app would be even better if they did list confession times and if they are going to be pushing this for the upcoming Lent maybe they will be updating it with this information. Having a Confession button along with Mass Times would be a good thing for sure.
For Catholics outside of Boston there is the Catholic Mass Times Church Directory app for the iPhone. The Catholic Directory web site is actually pretty good and now that I look at it seems to have more information than the more well known Mass Times including confession and adoration. No mention on their site for an Android version.
The app itself though is a bit of a disappointment. You can search by current location and get a list of parishes close to you – though you can’t set the distance. The church I wanted to check I could not easily get to. You should be able to select by State, City, Parish Name – and you can only search by street address, City, State. The information for Mass times etc, does not seem to exactly match their web site, but there is an ability to update the information to send back to them if the information displayed needs to be corrected. Also need to be connected to the internet to use.
If you have an internet connected device the app is good, but their web site might be better to use since you can more easily find specific parishes. The app also has ads for the company that makes this service available.
On a geeky phone OS note, I find it interesting that they mention the Droid when really they should be mentioning Android which is the mobile OS used for plenty of phones besides the Droid. Many Android users seems to see the phone model first and not identify the Android OS. Though considering that each Android Cell Phone maker usually adds an interface layer of their own above Android I guess this is no surprise.