New app takes Pope Francis’ Philippines visit mobile

The new official app for the Pope’s January visit to the Philippines will help people follow the Pope’s activities and find the latest news, while letting them offer their prayers on a special prayer wall.
“It is a good way to bring information on the papal visit closer to the people, particularly the youth,” said Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, chairman of the bishops of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Social Communication.
At the Dec. 12 app launch, Bishop Vergara said organizers wanted the public to have the latest information on the papal visit, “especially those who are mobile.”
“I think the Pope in this digital age wants to communicate,” he added, according to the Philippines Sun-Star. “All means of social communication should be utilized for evangelization.”
The app is available for Android and iOS phones. It can be found on the Google Play store and in the iTunes App Store by searching “Papal Visit 2015 — Philippines.”
Presenting information about the Pope’s Jan. 15-19 visit to the Philippines, the apps includes a papal itinerary, a photo gallery and the national prayer for the papal visit. It also includes the audio of the official song of the papal visit: “We Are All God’s Children.”
The app links to several news sources including Vatican Radio, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines News, Catholic News Agency, EWTN and the National Catholic Register.
The app was produced by the company Digital Media PH, but the Irondale, Ala.-based EWTN Global Catholic Network is also playing a role.
“EWTN is hosting the app platform and sponsoring its development for Catholic organizations,” Edwin Lopez, EWTN international marketing manager for the Asia-Pacific region, told CNA Dec. 16.
Since December 2013, the Catholic network has hosted apps for several Philippines organizations including CBCP News, Radio Veritas, TV Maria, the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart, and the Diocese of Pasig.
The Philippines is a youthful country with a large presence on social media.
The median age in the Philippines is under 23 years old. About 35 percent have internet access and 94 percent have Facebook accounts, Lopez said.
Another feature of the papal visit app is a unique prayer wall on which users may post their prayer requests and intentions.
“May you continue to guide your flock here,” Luigi, an app user from Mindanao, wrote Dec. 16. “Praying for your safe arrival here next year.”
App users may also record a voice message to send to Pope Francis and find links to several official social media accounts for the papal visit.
The app’s description cites Pope Francis’ June 1 message for the 48th World Communications Day: “Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone.”

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