We are thrilled with the new “Groups” feature in myParish App, and we hope you are as well. Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Montrose, MI did all of us a favor by creating an easy-to-follow “cheat sheet” on how to join a group. You can see the tips sheet here.
The new Church liturgical year begins November 27 this year, the first Sunday of Advent. Advent focuses on the coming of our Lord:
The Catechism stresses the two-fold meaning of this coming : When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming (No. 524).
Therefore, on one hand, the faithful reflect back and are encouraged to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s first coming into this world. We ponder again the great mystery of the incarnation when our Lord humbled Himself, taking on our humanity, and entered our time and space to free us from sin. On the other hand, we recall in the Creed that our Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead and that we must be ready to meet Him.
We are offering our myParish App churches two great Advent features: a free Advent background and free Advent reflections. The reflections will be added to the app via a special Advent button. This means app users will receive Advent reflections every weekday during the Advent season. What a great way to prepare for the coming of our Lord!
To receive these free Advent features, simply click here. And Happy New Year!
For parishes, the new Groups feature on myParish App has multiple and wonderful uses. Parish admins need to know exactly how to create a group. Just follow these steps:
- First, login to the myParish App admin page.
- Next, click on the “Groups” tab on the top of the page. (It’s next to “Homilies.”)
- Choose English or Spanish for the group, and then click on the “Create Group” button.
- You’ll need to choose “Church.” Then, you need to put your church’s zip code in the “Filter by a Church” box that appears. If you are an admin for several parishes, you may need to type in the parish name.
- You’ll be asked to name your Group, and then add a short description (the description is required to save your Group.) For example, you might name the Group “Moms’ Bible Study” and describe it as “For moms of all ages. This group meets every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. in the Marian Room.”
- Click “Save” in the bottom right corner of the box.
- At this point, you’ll see two icons in the bottom left corner. The “lock” means that this is not a conversation; the moderator can send out messages only. This is great for when you have a large group, or merely want to use the Groups feature to inform. The second is an “eye” icon. This allows you to “hide” the group for a period of time (for instance, a Bible study group that does not meet during the summer months might use this.)
- Once you save your Group, you’ll want to assign the moderators for that Group. For this example, you might add the parish staff member who oversees the Moms’ Bible Study Group, plus the group leader. Type in the name, hit “enter” and then add another name, if needed.
- Once your Group is created, you can click on “Manage Group” underneath the Group name/description.
- This is where you can add or change moderators, add discussion questions, and moderate the discussions. (Remember, you can send an invite through the app to add members, but not via the admin page.)
That’s it – you’ve got your Group! As always, if you need assistance with this or any features of the app, please feel free to contact us for assistance.
As a myParish App administrator, you’ve hopefully had a chance to check out the new Groups feature. (If you haven’t, please do. We know you’ll find it helpful!) This feature has the potential to not only help with day-to-day communications needs of a parish, but also help with information needs for religious education, schools, small groups and the many other groups that a church employs for the faithful. The Groups feature is flexible enough to handle targeted communication as well as on-going discussions.
Here are just a couple of ideas to help your faith community make the most of the Groups feature:
- If you are using Groups for administrative needs (i.e. church/school employees), make sure your list of members is up-to-date.
- It may take a bit for people to get used to using the Groups feature. A few reminders are a great idea.
- Again, for administrative needs, keep Group discussion timely. You don’t want to post a reminder for something that is a month away. People will forget. On the other hand, posting something the day before won’t give you the best results either.
- Make sure you (and any Group moderator) know your diocesan policies on social media usage. For instance, any group that involves children and teens (18 and under) should have two Group moderators, so that two adults can view all messaging. This is for the protection of church staff and volunteers, as well as our children.
- Let small group leaders know about the Group feature and how to use it. For instance, if your parish typically has Advent and/or Lenten small groups, the leaders can become Group moderators in order to extend discussions and post reminders.
These are just a few simple tips on how to use the Groups feature. If you’d like to know more, or to activate the Groups for your parish, please use our contact page. We’ll be happy to help.
For myParish App administrators, we know it’s important to have good, up-to-date content for messaging and push notifications. But let’s face it: sometimes, it’s hard to think about anything original when you’ve got parishioners’ needs, bulletin deadlines and parking lot lights that need to be replaced, preferably under (really under!) budget.
Here are a couple of ideas for good content:
- Do an app “Feature of the Week.” This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. For instance, you can point out that the app has confession times for your parish, and app users can set a reminder for themselves to go to confession. (Don’t forget: you can use the Features tab on our website to help craft a message.)
- Remind your parishioners of your parish mission statement. Sure, it’s on the bulletin every week and on your website, but a reminder about who your parish is, the parish’s spiritual goals and direction is always great. You can also ask, “How are we doing as a parish? What can I do to help fulfill our mission?”
- Thank your volunteers! If possible name them. Volunteers for coffee & cookies after Mass, people who usher or cantor, the folks that come early and stay late to set up chairs and tables and then take them down: they deserve our thanks and don’t get it often enough.
Remember, messaging and content on a regular basis is a terrific way to keep your parishioners coming back to the app again and again. A few minutes once a week to send out fresh content will certainly make myParish App a more valuable tool for your parish community.
myParish App isn’t just about the features you see on the screen. If you do a little creative thinking, you can use the app in some unique ways.
For instance, it’s easy to get stuck thinking about just our own parish. Here is Applandia, at Saint Alphege the Bald Catholic Church, we try and think about the universal church, as well. Here are some things we’ve done:
- Consider a parish-wide novena using the app. Send the novena prayer as a daily message. (Need ideas for novenas? Check out this page.)
- How much do you know about your parish’s patron saint? Send a message on the saint’s feast or send a message with a prayer for your patron’s intercession on a regular schedule (weekly, or monthly.)
- Send a message with the Holy Father’s intentions on the first day of the month, and encourage parishioners to pray the Morning Offering for them. The Morning Offering can be found in the Prayers tab in the app, where prayers are listed alphabetically. (You can find the Holy Father’s monthly intentions here.)
With just a little effort, your parish community can use myParish App to stay connected to the world-wide Catholic community in prayer, and learn some new things as well.
Here in Applandia, we are always on the look-out for the best Catholic content for myParish App. With this in mind, we are thrilled to now offer an audio Bible feature that app administrators can add for their parish community.
We wanted the very best Bible audio program we could find, and we found it in Truth & Life.
The Truth & Life Dramatized audio Bible New Testament is endorsed with an Imprimatur from the Vatican and includes a foreword by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Voiced by award winning internationally-renowned actors including: Neal McDonough, Kristen Bell, Sean Astin, Michael York, Blair Underwood, Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, Brian Cox, Julia Ormond, John Rhys-Davies and many more.
For many people, reading the Bible can be difficult or inconvenient. With the addition of the Truth & Life Audio Bible to myParish App, the Bible will come to life. Not only that, but this feature will allow a person to listen anywhere they have their phone.
If you’d like to add this feature to the app for your parish, please call us at (800) 997-8805, and our staff will gladly help you.
Remember too: when you add a new feature to the app, be sure to make note of it in your parish bulletin and other announcements. Keep your faith community informed as to what features myParish App has in store for them.
No, we don’t think the app is invisible. But it can get overlooked. People forget that it’s on their phone, or maybe your staff is still a little reluctant to use it.At Saint Alphege the Bald Catholic Church here in Applandia, the staff has best practices down to an art form. Here are a few tips:
- Post the “Download myParish App” image to your Facebook page. Pin it at the top of your FB page so that it’s the first thing people see in your feed.
- In the bulletin, put in instructions about how to download the app. You don’t have to do this every week, but a couple of times a month is good.
- Use the App Feature of the Week in the bulletin. (Go to myparishapp.com and look under the “Features” tab.) There’s one for each basic button on your app; that’s 12 weeks of tips!
By dedicating a few minutes every week to “best practices” for the app, you’ll see an increase of parishioner use and participation. And that means your job in the parish is easier, and most importantly, people are connecting with their faith, every day.