Parish Reps Embrace New Diocesan Mobile App

Excitement and interest filled the Queen of Saints Hall at the Catholic Center today when almost 50 parish representatives turned out for training in the use of the new diocesan mobile App that will be launched in February.

“Apps” are computer software applications designed to make information, photos and videos more readily available and accessible on Smart Phones, Tablets, and other mobile devices, where people now increasing turn for information.

The mobile App will feature Mass times, news, calendar events, video and photos, and parish information, represents a new era of communications in the diocese. It was designed by Deacon Patrick Toole of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield and will work on all smart phones and tablets.

“Everyone turns to an iPad or smart phone to get information today,” said Karen Barton of St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull. “When people have access to information quickly there more apt to follow through. The new App should make the process easier for people to learn about the parish.”

Deacon John DiTaranto, Special Assistant to Bishop Caggiano, began the meeting with a prayer and reminded those in attendance that “the purpose of the App is to bring people closer to the Lord. “

The Deacon said that the mobile App will support the major Synod initiatives, particularly the call for improved communications and outreach to youth. “One of The Synod themes of the Synod is to focus on the young Church. And that means we need information that is fresh, timely and up to date.”

In the two-hour session, the parish representatives asked a wide range of questions and brought considerable knowledge of social media and information technology to the training. They will play a key role in uploading information from their parish to the new App.

Each parish representative will be given a password to enter a secure website, where they can upload information.

“It’s great,” said Jonathan Torres, a member of St. George Parish in Bridgeport. “You have to use every avenue available to communicate. People are on their phones all the time, and social media a tool we need to use to reach them.”

The diocesan website has an average of 20,000 visitors a month, but people increasingly are visiting the website by mobile phone as opposed to desktop computers. . The App translates the voluminous information on the website into a format that makes information easier and quicker to find on the small screen of a smart phone.

Janet Gardella, office manager of Assumption Parish in Westport, welcomed the new App and the ability it gives each parish to post its own information. “I think the Church should embrace social media. The App really offers another connection with parishioners because people want information at their fingertips.”

“Anything that can get the word out is a good thing,” added Kate Fitzgerald of St. Mary Parish in Bethel. “Our parish is on Facebook and Twitter. The new App will provide even more access to information.”

“I work with youth all the time and they’re constantly using social media. This is great,” said Andrew Sheldon, a professional web developer who also serves as Webmaster for St. Margaret Mary Parish in Shelton.

The training was conducted by Mark Murphy, a digital communications consultant to the diocese and to many parishes. “The App is all about improving the user experience, making it better and making information more accessible on a mobile device,” he said.

Murphy walked representatives through the content management system and the new diocesan portal that provides users with the tools for entering and editing information. It is accessible through all web browsers.

He fielded the frequent questions throughout the training and also responded to the many helpful suggestions to improve the App.

Jill Monroe, who serves as social media coordinator for the Office of Communications, also was on hand to answer questions about the new App and diocesan website.

“The new App is about faith and building community,” she said to the representatives. “It about making your parish a welcoming home and family where people want to be.”