Archdiocese rolls out new digital media app in time for Advent
by Jessica Langdon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Advent calendars have long yielded tiny treats to the littlest Catholics.
This year, adults might be surprised to find there are ways to mark the days until Christmas at their fingertips as well.
A new app — launched just in time for Advent — holds special content for the season and highlights the treasure trove of Catholic videos and other content in the online archdiocesan Digital Media Center.
Now individuals, families and ministry leaders can download the Catholic Media ArchKCK app and have a wealth of information on a variety of church topics on their smartphones and tablets.
“This is an increasingly mobile world,” said Tim Chik, director of Savior Pastoral Center and the Digital Media Center. “And so what we wanted to do was take this really robust engine online and put it into the hands — and literally, the handheld devices — of all people.”
The new Catholic media app, searchable under the phrase “Catholic Media ArchKCK” in the Apple App Store and Google Play, launched this November.
The app by Subsplash Consulting offers a portal to the more than 2,000 existing videos in the archdiocesan Digital Media Center (which can be found online at: http://resources.arch kck.org).
While the app will offer new and timely content throughout the church year, its kickoff for Advent offers users new ways to engage in the season.
Useful in Advent, all year
Users can start the new church year by first downloading the app, then clicking the “Advent” tab. There, they will be led in a daily prayer, the first of which will be led by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, with other priests to follow.
“They can walk through Advent every day with just a little audio reflection,” said Chik.
The effort is a joint one of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas; the Diocese of Reno, Nevada; and the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. It makes sense to have the military archdiocese take part, said Chik, because as long as men and women serving overseas can access content on their phones, they can access this app and all it offers.
Representatives of the other dioceses will also lead prayers.
And then on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during Advent, Steve Angrisano and John Angotti, nationally known Catholic ministry leaders and musicians, will contribute as well.
“They’re going to be kind of just walking the journey with us,” said Chik. “This is content that is nowhere else. This is exclusive to us. And so, in terms of really being able to try to prepare for Christmas, this would be a really useful app to go to every day.”
Most of the videos available through the app are free to view; a few may be downloaded for a small charge.
Chik believes there’s something to match every interest.
“Some people like to pray in the car on the way to and from work, and a lot of our stuff is also audio,” said Chik. “So you could, for example, listen to a talk by Scott Hahn on your way, just by playing the audio on your phone. Or if you wanted to do the daily readings with your kids in the mornings so they could have a little prayer time with the family, we have that as well.”
Betsy Helow, pastoral associate with the archdiocesan office of evangelization, believes the daily readings, the Liturgy of the Hours and more under the “Today” tab will open opportunities to pray first thing in the morning simply by picking up her phone.
“I actually love listening to talks and any sort of formation when I’m working out,” she said. “And so, I think it’s really neat that now I can just pull up any of this information and click a talk or something that I haven’t seen.”
Helow, who spent two years as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, even got permission from FOCUS to upload its collection of materials into the Digital Media Center, so those resources are available as well.
Ray Martin, social media and family life director at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, sees a lot of opportunity to link people to their faith through the Digital Media Center.
And users don’t have to worry about video recommendations or advertising contrary to church teaching because the archdiocese controls it, he said.
Having a vast and searchable collection of faith videos and audio presentations available at one’s fingertips through the app will add yet another element to share the faith with people through media they use all the time, he said.
It would be natural at dinner with friends to pull out a phone and watch the replay of a great catch in a football game, he said, and he hopes the same would be true when the topic turns to faith.
“You could literally pull your phone out, search the topic for a video you’ve seen before, and share it with your friends in the middle of a conversation,” said Martin.
He believes Catholics are searching for greater access to and enhancement of their faith, and this app provides a great tool.
“I would encourage people to bring this technology to their fingertips because we never know when those moments are going to occur — when either we personally or in discussion with friends have an opportunity either to become closer to God or to evangelize our faith,” said Martin.
There is also a “Live” tab users can click to link into live events that are underway.
People can also connect through the app to the archdiocesan Facebook, Twitter and home page.
While many great Catholic apps exist, Chik sees this one as a cutting-edge endeavor that he believes will grow in terms of participating publishers and other areas interested in coming on board in the future.
At the end of the day, it’s all about evangelization and growing in faith.
“I think we need to bring Jesus everywhere we go,” said Chik, “and I think that includes the digital platforms that we use.
“If our mobile devices are places where we’re not bringing Christ, then that’s a place that we haven’t allowed him into our hearts and into our lives.”
Get the app
The Catholic Media ArchKCK app is available for all mobile devices. It can be found in the Apple App Store and Google Play by searching for: “Catholic Media ArchKCK.”
It is free to download, and the majority of the videos are free to watch.