PLATTSBURGH — If the exact wording of the Act of Contrition escapes you, there’s an app for that.
In the Digital Age, Catholics can tap an array of divine apps to become better Catholics.
Msgr. Robert H. Aucoin, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Potsdam, presented “Smartphone Your Way To Heaven” recently at St. Peter’s Church in Plattsburgh.
Aucoin, a self-identified “computer geek,” uses digital devices to assist him daily in his priestly duties.
“I just saw a practical application for it,” he said. “So smartphones, iPad, Droid tablets and all that are used for all kinds of purposes, and I wanted to show people there is a Catholic purpose, too. One of the main purposes is books, not just books to read but original resources for Catholics. For example, there are many different translations of the Bible. There are some apps that have all the different translations.”
The apps allow people to search easily for a reference.
“If they know a particular word found in the scripture, they can quickly search through the whole Bible to find that word.”
Aucoin’s computerization dates back to the late 1970s.
“I was a principal at a Catholic high school in Watertown,” he said. “My first use of the computer was scheduling students for classes. I used to do it by hand. Over the years with the Internet, it was just a much broader use for computer and I found many Catholic websites.”
In the 1990s, he wrote for Catholics on the Net and wrote a syndicated column that appeared in six Catholic newspapers.
“I started writing about those websites that were Catholic in nature and when smartphones began to be available, I started playing with it and found there were similar apps as I found on the computer. Some were the same. Having it in your pocket makes it that much more convenient because you don’t have to carry a computer around with you.”
The app, iBreviary, is an instrument of prayer.
“It’s a series of prayers,” Aucoin said. “In print, it’s a four-volume book and a series of prayers priests are obligated to pray every day but other people do and not only priests.”
For Sunday Mass, he uses a hymn-book app.
“I use that rather than the hymn book on my iPad,” Aucoin said. “The reason is I can put together the four or five hymns we’re going to be using. I don’t have to flip pages, and it’s all in one place. Just for convenience sake, those are the two I use the most. You’re connected to the Internet, and there’s a button, you can play it so you can hear what it sounds like.”
Another popular app is iChant.
“It’s a keyboard,” Aucoin said. “If I’m trying to figure out a melody for a particular hymn, you can play it. All the apps I use are much better in app form than printed form. They add more features than a book can.”
As a member of the iPhone Nation, he uses his to say prayers while waiting in the doctor’s office.
“I just whip out my iPhone if there are not too many distractions going on. There are a lot of Catholic apps.”
He warns that just because something calls itself Catholic, that doesn’t mean it is Catholic.
“There are no controls on the Internet,” Aucoin said. “Apple is very good controlling the quality of the apps that go out. It doesn’t control the Internet. All the apps are also available for the Android.”
He uses his iPad in church and makes an audio of Sunday Mass, which he puts online for people who were not able to attend for whatever reason.
“There are other priests that do a lot with the Internet,” Aucoin said.
The Rev. Christopher Looby is a Droid fan at St. Mary’s Parish in Brushton.
Aucoin manages St. Mary’s website. He updates it with homilies and other pertinent church information.
“It’s easy,” he said. “We publish photographs of events so people can see what it is like. They are a lot of links on the page. There are lots of churches that extensively use the Internet.”
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