Catholic Church partners with local developer to give app technology a higher calling

New Media Manager Tracy Chimming, General Manager Lucille Nathu look at the Camsel App

The Roman Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain is taking a leap of faith into the world of digital technology. Catholic Media Services Limited (CAMSEL), the official communications arm of the Archdiocese, has developed a mobile application (‘app’) aimed at keeping the Catholic community connected well beyond Sunday Mass.

Speaking on the ‘app’, Tracy Chimming, New Media Manager at CAMSEL said today’s technology-driven society demands news and information that is both interactive and instantaneous. To meet this demand she explained, “We have taken our cue from Vatican Communications and adopted the approach that the Church needs to be where people are and without a doubt Catholics are spending increasing amounts of time on their mobile devices, especially young people.”

Chimming added, “With well over 1.23 million mobile Internet subscriptions in Trinidad and Tobago, we think it is important to have a mobile presence to maintain our connection with our community outside of the traditional Mass.”

The new app’s core functionality includes an Events Calendar, a Parish search feature with GPS integration, access to the Catholic News, as well as a Daily Devotional. The application will also be compatible with iPhones and Android devices and will be available to download for free from November 10, 2014.

In collaboration with Blink Bmobile, the app launch features a five-week promotion, including the opportunity to win a Samsung Ace 3s Smartphone weekly through December 14 2014.

Together with mobile connectivity, the Archdiocese also has planned a revamped digital home with the re-design of both the Catholic News and the Archdiocese’s websites. The re-designed Catholic News website will include a much requested electronic newspaper (e-paper), designed to accommodate more than 200 current readers in the diaspora.

Both websites will be optimised for Social Media sharing, which means that if you see an article or any bit of information which you would like to send to a friend, you can do so with the click of a button.

An independent study done by local digital solutions group – Caribbean Ideas – in the age group 16-44, revealed that 97.3 per cent of those surveyed were spending time on Facebook, while 34 per cent spent time on Twitter. Additionally, the survey disclosed that more than 42 per cent of the country’s 18-35 year-olds spend more than 11 hours a week consuming digital media. The Archdiocese of Port of Spain can be found on both Twitter and Facebook.

With this kind of information, Chimming said, “We are deeply interested in reaching our Catholic youth and we have seen promising growth in our Social Media audience this year. Our primary objective is to listen to, communicate with and learn about the needs and wants of our audience to better serve their needs using New Media.”

“Archbishop Joseph Harris has expressed his full support for the role of New Media as it pertains to the reach of the Catholic Church in Trinidad and Tobago and he has plans to engage one-on-one with his digital audience in the near future,” Chimming added.

Catholics, like so many others in our society, are still somewhat puzzled by the rapid development of what can be aptly termed a ‘new language’ with terms like Hashtag, Tweet, Trending etc., which while they come almost naturally to the young, still pose a challenge to the not so young and seniors.

But this notwithstanding, Camsel’s General Manager Lucille Nathu said the organisation must embrace this “new” technology if we are to remain relevant and communicate with all of our people. “Bmobile coming onboard can only enhance this initiative,” she said.