New request: Turn cell phones on at church

Parishioners are often advised to turn off cellphones or pagers in keeping with the solemnity of the Mass. But a story in Our Sunday Visitor suggests something contrary. It says priests should ask  parishioners to actually turn on their mobile devices.

“You would surely hear gasps as people wonder whether the priest had misspoken or if their hearing aids need new batteries,” writes Brandon Vogt who noted that this has taken place — at the end of Mass – at parishes across the country.

One example is St. Mary’s Catholic Center, the campus parish at Texas A&M University in College Station, where the presiding priest after Mass recently asked the congregation to text some basic information, right then, to a parish number. Within minutes, thousands of parishioners were linked to the parish registration database. Later they were sent an email to complete their registration and create an account chooosing which parish group or ministry from which they wished to receive updates and how they wished to get these updates — either email, Twitter, Facebook or text messages.

“Parishes can’t afford to sit out this digital revolution,” the story points out, noting how “new media increasingly dominate our world through blogs, social media, podcasting, interactive websites and text messaging, among other tools.”

The article suggests that pastors and parish ministries get on board with new media as a way to communicate with parishioners during the week and encourage dialogue.

But lest parishes get too caught up in the fast-paced world of new media, the story emphasizes that certain standards must always remain in place.

“Whether in the first century, 15th century, or 21st century, the goal of each parish remains the same: to make saints. Any new technology, including new media, should be assessed in light of that mission.”

3 Responses

  1. When I saw the headline about “turn on smart phones in church” I was thinking, at last! but for a different reason. Yes emailing needed data to parish office/pastors is important. However, (with the sound turned off) I often turn it on in a church which does not have a missalette since one app has the days’ readings; or I read the Breviary psalms/prayers for morning or evening before Liturgy (another app), or read Creighton Univ. site for great Sunday and other day homilies (another app0, while waiting for Mass to begin. And I’m waiting to hear about others, But attention to the action and people at Mass is even more important.Kal

  2. Great article. This is one of the reasons we created The New Mass iPhone app, for the upcoming new English translation of the Mass. My pastor actually encouraged people to download the app and use it during Mass, saying, “Don’t worry, I won’t think you’re texting!”

  3. As long as this is done before or after the mass, specifically, I see nothing wrong with this. Conversely, I can see how this can be abused (people end up taking longer than necessary to be done with their devices, etc.) so I am not exactly complacent about all of this.

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