Large-scale Catholic tech project launches at World Youth Day

watch videoDuring World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Diocese of Brooklyn launched the Pray with the Pope project—the first phase of a large scale technology campaign to get young adults to track prayer time and encourage others to do the same.

The campaign involved minting and distributing over 20,000 prayer coins, each with a unique alphanumeric code. Teens can go online, register their coin, log prayer time, and see where the coin has traveled on an interactive globe.

I asked Monsignor Kieran Harrington, vicar for communications at the Brooklyn Diocese,  a few questions about the project. I’m pleased to share the following interview with CatholicTechTalk:

Harrington.pdfQ: Monsignor Harrington, can you tell us about DeSales Media Group and why the Diocese of Brooklyn wanted to establish a structured, strategic plan for its media operations?

A: I think that is what Saint Paul would do if he lived in our time and place.

Q: What are some of DeSales Media’s current products and services?

A: We are engaged in traditional media, newspapers and television, but we have placed a high priority on new media and web design, more specifically, on mobile applications. (Learn more on The Tablet)

Q: The Diocese of Brooklyn’s first-ever large-scale technology project was recently launched at the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. Can you explain what the goal of the Pray with the Pope project is?

A: The goal of Pray with the Pope is to achieve a perpetual, unbroken chain of prayer across cultures and nations. Visitors to the site schedule a specific time to pray with the Holy Father and for his monthly prayer intentions. And, because can observe others’ prayer times and see them taking place in real-time, it’s also a way to connect Catholics across the world, united in this single purpose.

Q: It’s wonderful that the Diocese sent 300 young adults to World Youth Day to help launch this project—can you tell us a little about that?

A:  We sent the young people to World Youth Day so that they might become missionaries. We launched the project to help them in the great work of proclaiming the faith.

Q: The next phase of this project will involve an interactive prayer globe, where visitors can visualize all registered prayers using Google Earth technology. Will viewers be able to access this on the web or within a smart phone app?

A: The interactive globe on the website is actually ready right now. If you don’t have the Google Earth plug-in for your browser, you’ll be automatically prompted to download and install it. Once that’s done, if you have a registered medallion you can see it right there on the globe—where it’s been before it was in your hands and where it goes after you give it away. The globe also shows you who is currently in prayer at that moment in time, represented by a purple prayer icon.

All of this Google Earth functionality will be available on the smartphone app, too, when it is available in the App Store and on Google Play.

Q: Currently on praywiththepope.org, anyone can log on and order a medallion. (What a great idea, I ordered mine right away, and urge everyone to do the same!) There was a very small cost to purchase one, can you tell us where the proceeds go or what they will support in the Diocese? 

A:  We simply want to use those proceeds to mint more medallions. This will increase the number of folks who will be praying with and for the Pope, and will help establish a web of prayer so that folks can see they are not alone.

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Martin Sheen Pray with the Pope

Photo courtesy of DeSales Media

Many thanks to Msgr.  Harrington and Ana Yoerg for coordinating the interview and taking the time to talk about the project with CatholicTechTalk. Click here to order your medallion, follow the organization on Facebook, and be sure to share this exciting project with your parish and friends!

Interesting fact: shown here, actor Martin Sheen was the first person to receive a prayer medallion and has expressed his admiration for the project!

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Author:Clare Zajicek

Clare Zajicek is a Catholic wife, mom, and Marketing professional working in the Milwaukee area.