Advent is a busy time at the parish. And you know that the phones will be ringing (“What time is midnight Mass?”)
Using myParish App Messages is a great way to keep your parishioners updated. Many parishes have Penance Services during Advent. Use Messages to send out reminders to your faith community a week or so before, and then the day before. Do the same with the Holy Day on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when you’re likely to have a different Mass schedule. Of course, parishes have a variety of Masses for Christmas and January 1.
You’ll also want to make sure your parish’s myParish App calendar is kept up-to-date. You might even want to put a prominent reminder in the bulletin that says something like, “Make sure to check myParish App for calendar and event updates during Advent and Christmas.”
Happy Holy Days!
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.
Last week, Catholics from around the world met in New Orleans to attend the International Catholic Stewardship Council‘s (ICSC) annual conference. The conference’s goal is to work with parishes and Catholic organizations to teach and then carry out “the Catholic vision of Christian stewardship as a way of life.”
Mike DiCosola, director of technology for myParish App, understands that when most Catholics hear the word “stewardship,” they think, “The Church wants my money.” However, DiCosola wants Catholic leaders and parishioners to think of stewardship as the response of a disciple of Christ. DiCosola also covers the use of technology, including myParish App, for parish stewardship needs.
In DiCosola’s presentation at ICSC this year, he challenges us to focus, not on how to get more people to give more money, but rather on how to “authentically and effectively communicate about stewardship.” In order to do this, he says, we must “speak from and to the heart.”
We are pleased to present DiCosola’s presentation, in its entirety, here. We hope that his discussion on the “Language of Stewardship” gives leaders at the parish level practical and sound ways to think and talk about stewardship as a disciple’s response.
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.