From the New York Daily News:
God may be omnipresent — but His priests aren’t.
So a holy man in Madison, Wisc., has turned to app development, along with divine guidance, to find a better way to tend to the needs of his 800-family flock.
Father Richard Heilman is launching a My Confessor App that will let his parishioners know when and where he is available to listen to their sins.
After 25 years in the ministry, Heilman believes Catholics could do with a bit more priest-and-me time. His preferred dosage is at least once a month.
“Maybe more often if you’re dealing with repetitive sin,” Heilman told The News. “A lot of us aren’t in a state of grace and confessions help that grace flow freely.”
Confession is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. Traditionally, it occurs in an enclosed booth where priest and parishioner can chat through a lattice to preserve anonymity. After repentant souls list out their sins, the priest offers forgiveness and suggests a penance.
But nowadays, there aren’t enough priests to go around. The number of Catholic priests in America has declined in recent decades, according to data collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. In 1965, more than 58,000 Catholic priests belonged to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In 2012, that number was closer to 39,000. On the other hand, the number of people who self-identify as Catholics has grown from 48.5 million to 78.2 million.
These figures keep Heilman on his toes. He is in charge of three Madison-area parishes, with five Masses to recite every weekend. Factor in baptisms, weddings, funerals and you’ve got one busy priest.
“It’s challenging sometimes for priests to find time for confession because they have work to do,” Heilman said. “And parishioners are trying to go easy on Father because they see us trying to handle multiple things.”
Another option is to schedule an appointment. But that takes away the veil of anonymity.
“We don’t want this to be awkward or embarrassing,” Heilman said.
The My Confessor app is Heilman’s way of getting Catholics to confess during the priest shortage.
The idea is simple. A red status box means “Father is OUT.” A green status box means “Father is IN.” And priests have a special log in that lets them easily update their statuses and even post messages, according to app developer Mary Hoerr.
The app also has a section explaining the sacrament of confession, as well as another place where users can read priests’ bios.
Heilman is the only priest on the app for now and he’s been paying all the development costs out of his own pocket. But he says several other priests have reached out and asked to get involved. The app currently serves people in the Madison area. However, Heilman sees this going national.
He envisions an app that has a Google map with markers that point out where the nearest priest is. So if you’re driving by and you realize that there’s a burden on your back that you need to unload, users of My Confessor will know exactly where to go.
“I want people to not feel uncomfortable asking about confession,” Heilman said. “We want everybody ignited in the holy spirit.”
The app will be available to both iPhone and Android users later this month. For now, those interested can check myconfessor.org for updates.
The makers of My Confessor are accepting donations to help improve the app to suit users’ needs. Donations can be sent to the men’s apostolate founded by Heilman, The Knights of Divine Mercy.
Here are some of the many places, around the world, that shared this story …
Fr. Zuhlsdorf ran the original story here: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/06/very-cool-priest-with-a-super-cool-idea-for-hard-identity-catholicism/
FOX NEWS: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/06/16/wanna-confess-your-sins-there-app-for-that/
THE INQUISITOR: http://www.inquisitr.com/790724/confession-app-lets-catholics-check-the-holy-fathers-availability/
ENET VIEW: http://enetview.com/confession-app-lets-catholics-check-the-holy-fathers-availability/
SAN JOSE: http://www.sanjosesun.com/index.php/sid/215240831/scat/d805653303cbbba8/ht/Now-an-app-that-helps-you-confess-your-sins
CATHOLIC ONLINE: http://www.catholic.org/technology/story.php?id=51390
DEACON’S BENCH: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2013/06/priest-develops-app-to-let-his-flock-know-when-hes-hearing-confessions/
ORDINARY TO EXTRAORDINARY: http://blog.yankehome.com/index.php/247-confessional-cure-ars-madison/
OPEN SOURCE CATHOLIC: http://www.opensourcecatholic.com/blog/jeff-geerling/my-confessor
CLERICAL WHISPERS: http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com/2013/06/an-app-to-confess-your-sins.html
About the Author: