An app you might not want Mom to have

VATICAN CITY — If your parents are paying your way to World Youth Day in Madrid and you want them to know where you are, then the Vatican has an iPhone and iPad app you both might want. On the other hand, you can use it just with your friends.

The Italian version of the iPhone and iPad app for World Youth Day
(CNS photos)

The iGPII application, coming to the Apple Store Aug. 1, features a “Friend Finder” so that when you are in Madrid you can find anyone you have befriended with the device. The service is part of the application’s GPS function, which also lets you figure out where you are, where WYD events are and where there is a restaurant open nearby that will accept the WYD pilgrim meal tickets.

The app, developed for the John Paul II Foundation for Youth and carrying the Pontifical Council for the Laity seal of approval, will cost $4.99 from the Apple Store in North America and €3.99 in Europe. Although journalists got a preview peek at the Italian version today, it also will be available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Polish.

Proceeds from app sales will be used by the foundation to help young people from developing countries get to Madrid and to future celebrations of World Youth Day, said Marcello Bedeschi, president of the foundation.

Iacopo Barberini, who works for Futurtech — the techie brains behind the app — said the program comes with a password that will give users free access to wi-fi hotspots in Madrid so they can update the app without paying roaming charges.

In addition to the “Friend Finder,” the app has a detailed WYD program, prayers and papal messages, a city guide, information about the foundation, a ton of info about past WYDs, photo albums featuring Blessed John Paul and Pope Benedict XVI and a varied collection of YouTube videos featuring prayers set to music. One is Bobby McFerrin leading a crowd in singing “Ave Maria.”

Young women religious from across US make their voices heard

The voice of youth is more powerful than ever — members of the under-25 set are quickly rising to the top in multiple industries, making sure they leave their mark on the world as soon as they can, but what about the younger voice in the Catholic Church?

World Youth Day may be just around the corner, but there is another group of young people ready to ensure that they are doing what they can to impact society.

Women religious under the age of 50 gathered at Loyola University Chicago July 21-24 as part of the Giving Voice Conference. Giving Voice is an organization dedicated to providing a place for young women religious to speak about issues that are important to them and to converse with one another.

Women religious particpate in a circle of conversation. (Photo courtesy of Giving Voice)

Many attendees at the sixth national Giving Voice Conference were the youngest members of their religious communities, and have only experienced religious life since the Second Vatican Council.

The keynote speaker was Sister Sandra Schneiders, a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and a “rock star” in the world of religious life, as one conference participant explained. Sister Schneiders is a respected theologian who has written several books on religious life.

“We are in a kairos moment that, if we seize it, could really galvanize into a whole new era of American religious life,” Sister Schneiders said during the conference.

A press release from the Giving Voice said that these young sisters “recognize they will be called to leadership in their communities and in the church in the coming years.”

Sister Susan Francois, a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace and one of the conference planning team members, told Catholic News Service that the sisters who gathered in Chicago do not fit many people’s stereotypes of Catholic nuns. “Most of us do not wear religious habits, although some of us do,” said the 38-year-old. “That’s not what matters to us. What we share is our desire to follow Jesus and serve God’s people in need.”

“We are a strong, talented, creative, passionate group with energy for making a difference in the world,” said 30-year-old Presentation Sister Jessi Beck.