I have spent the last fifteen years working in leadership at several Catholic organizations amidst a time of digital transformation of the Church. And let me say, the evolution of the Catholic Church and adoption of technology has certainly come a long way since I started my career in ministry.
Technology hasn’t always been welcomed in the Church with open arms, which is understandable. Catholic liturgy is a sacred event. A friend once told me—half in jest—that they converted to Catholicism because they enjoyed the quiet of Mass. Her opinion isn’t unique. I constantly hear that, in a world surrounded by screens and noise, the hour of peace and worship on Sunday is a much-needed respite.
Despite that taboo, technology and apps designed specifically for the Catholic Church have actually been around for years. The problem was, they weren’t very good in the beginning and the poor experience left a bad taste in users’ mouths. Imagine if the new car you just bought kept stalling out, or didn’t have the basic features you needed—like a radio or turn signals. You’d probably be hesitant to continue driving it and move on, right?
I’ll admit, long before I worked at Pushpay, I was skeptical of Pushpay. I first considered bringing them into St. Anthony’s five years ago, and my sales rep at the time—Brian Byersdorf, who is now our Director of Product Marketing—explained that Pushpay’s suite came with a custom church app.
“Don’t care,” I remember thinking. “No one’s ever going to use it.”
But once Brian and I really started digging into the technology, the value of Pushpay—and the app in particular—became clear. For Catholic churches, it impacts everything outside of Sunday that makes a Catholic parish function. And other parishes and dioceses are starting to realize the same thing. In fact, according to Catholic leaders, mobile church applications are the most strategically important tools for the church in the next two to three years.
Digital Solutions Tailored to Catholic Needs
There are obvious differences between a Catholic Mass and protestant/non-denominational services. When you attend the latter, you might find yourself sitting in a room that resembles an auditorium. The pastor may have a massive screen behind him while he asks survey questions, encouraging you to pull out your device and engage.
At Mass, the only time you might consider pulling out your phone is to follow the Scripture readings. Even then, the moment the readings are over, that phone is quickly put back in your pocket or purse.
So you can understand the Catholic hesitation to embrace digital solutions. Why waste resources on mobile tools when technology’s frowned upon on Sunday mornings?
We’re not trying to digitize Mass. We want to help you with every other aspect of evangelization. Our tools enable connection, engagement, and faith beyond Sunday. We’re here to support your ministry when your members aren’t inside your walls.
A while back, I wanted to sign my kid up for Vacation Bible School through one of my local parishes in Nashville. I nearly pulled my hair out from frustration because of the convoluted and outdated process: To simply register for the program, I had to go to their website, find the PDF, print the PDF, fill out the PDF, write the check, then drive everything to the parish receptionist—if I happened to know when she was going to be in the office.
I don’t have a printer. I don’t have checks. I’m 35 years old, and most of my generation—and those younger than me—simply don’t engage through paper anymore.
That’s why I’m passionate about implementing technology in the Catholic community. Because we can streamline registration for your faith formation classes. Our technology simplifies volunteer scheduling. We’re capable of livestreaming weddings and funerals when family can’t attend in-person. We can host all of your parish’s asks, hosting needs, and more, online.
And because, frankly, I’d like there to be a Church left for my kids. I’d like the Church to be operational for the next generation as they get older. They are digital natives and this is what they’ll likely expect. The alternative is we limp along and risk losing an entire generation.
Looking Toward the Future
When speaking with pastors, the pushback against technology often stems from the age of their parish’s membership. “Our parish is older,” they say. Which may be true—but are you O.K. with not engaging the next generation? With not reaching out to meet the people who could continue your church’s legacy in the decades to come?
The tools we offer are designed to support the mission of the Church, by meeting the next generation of Catholics on the devices they are already comfortable with. These apps actually encourage and support evangelization in a way that’s impactful, meaningful and personal. They enable pastors to get out from behind the desk—where all their appointments are scribbled down on post-it notes—and instead meet in coffee shops or the local park.
Not only can technology help free up time so pastors can be in the community more, they ease administration management and streamline processes that have traditionally been manual. For example, when you’re meeting with families away from your desk, and they mention, “Hey, my email changed,” you can update their information in your app, in real-time. Or say you’re heading into a staff meeting, you look like a superhero when you can quickly pull up personal information like birthdays and wedding anniversaries, and celebrate with your team.
All this is to say, we want you to keep your Sunday Mass a quiet, reflective, and holy event. We just want to help make Monday through Saturday easier by helping you do everything else, so you can focus on the traditions and ministry programs that matter most in your community.