Should There Be A Standard for Mass Times?

If someone is just visiting a Catholic Church website, there’s a good chance they’re looking for the church’s Mass times.  Unfortunately, too many church websites still don’t have their mass times updated regularly.  While I’d love to solve that issue, it probably can only be accomplished one one church at a time.  The one issue, however, that we may be able to solve is should there be a defined standard for Mass times?

Masstimes.org attempted to create a standard a while ago, but I don’t believe it ever was widely adopted.  What they have seems to work though with perhaps a couple tweaks.    On masstimes.org, anyone can update any Church’s mass time in Wikipedia type fashion.  When you update it, here’s what it looks like on the back-end:

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 12.33.00 PM

The language field is for churches that have one or more of their Masses in some language other than English.  The Service Type has a few options with weekend and weekdays being the most common.  Other choices that they have are Adorations, Confessions, Devotions, and Holy Days.   I’d also recommend a “Special” type.  There’s occasionally going to be something unique that doesn’t quite fit in a per-defined category.

The Mass’ end time may seem unnecessary (as you don’t want people searching for shorter masses nearby!), but it’s at times necessary for services like Confessions.  For most services it won’t be used, but optionally it does need to be there.

I did think about maybe adding in a time zone field, but I’m assuming someone attending Mass even as a visitor to an area would know what time zone the church is in.

For the standard, I’d recommend putting a sort order field.  While I would recommend that by default you sort the Masses by date starting with Saturday, there’s always some instances where specific churches may want the masses ordered by language, type of service, or in some unique fashion.

For the typical church, having a standard for their Mass times doesn’t really matter that much.  It just serves as a guide for the data that should be there.  However, for dioceses and the Catholic Church directory sites out there coming up with a standard and then perhaps even agreeing to share that information may just be the thing to do.

I’d welcome any input on further refining this standard.

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Author:Joe Luedtke

Joe Luedtke is the Chief Operating Officer for Liturgical Publications (LPi). Joe specializes in Social Media and Web 2.0 and is currently leading LPi’s efforts to move into the on-line world. Joe works for the world's largest and oldest social network, religion, and believes that this social network could benefit tremendously from the the proper use of Internet technologies.