The app is intended to connect young Catholics to their faith

By Allyson Escobar     5/12/2016

“Mercy: the bridge that connects us to God.” That’s the goal of the new youth and young adult ministry mobile app, “Orange YYA,” released in March by the Diocese of Orange.

Young Adult Ministry Coordinator Cecilia Phan and her team from the diocese first began work on the app in September 2015, with the idea of better connecting young adults to events and ministries around their diocese.

With feedback from a test group, they discovered that young adults around Southern California tend to work in one city, live in another, and hang out in the next—especially those looking to be involved in Catholic groups, churches and events.

“Young adults go where they are fed,” Phan said. “Today, they are more mobile than any other generation; they’re also always connected to their phones. We wanted to bridge faith and technology in a way that would resource and engage Catholic young adults, and a mobile app seemed to be the best way.”

With the help of different ministries and communication within the diocese, the mobile app—with a smooth, clean interface—came together over the process of several months.

“We wanted to make it a visually appealing resource,” said Catherine Ord, youth ministry programs coordinator with the diocese. “It all came together with the help of several interns, and our team, pulling all of these ministries out of the woodwork.”

The team’s first priority was to create an easy access, curated calendar of all events in the region. Social media did not always seem to work for young adults, and its reach, the team found, was very limited.

“I met people who said that nothing was really going on, but once I started going to events and meeting more and more groups, I realized that there were events happening almost every day. We just didn’t have a place to find the information,” said Phan.

With the app’s interactive calendar and pop-up notifications, users are able to log in and see a comprehensive, updated list of YA gatherings, youth leader events, and opportunities for Catholics in formation.

The Youth & Young Adults team of the diocese also wanted users to easily be able to find a nearby church, Mass times, and when they could receive the Sacrament of Penance.

“We wanted quick and accurate information to ensure that young adults—and anyone for that matter—can receive the Sacraments on a normal basis, no matter where they are,” Phan said.

The app has a convenient “Find a Parish” map listing of every Catholic church in the region, along with a Mass and Reconciliation schedule.

Courtesy of Our Sunday Visitor, the app provides up-to-date Catholic news and reflections, all of which can all be found at users’ fingertips.

Whether through meetings, retreats, sports leagues, service opportunities or bible studies, young adults have lots of ways to connect with others in the communal church. “If you’re looking for anything to do concerning your faith, there is always something going on,” said Ord.

Most importantly, Phan and Ord wanted the app’s users to engage directly with their faith, and have a guided resource along their journey. Modeling from other popular Catholic apps like Laudate, they added a “Faith in Action” widget, which provides the daily Gospel readings and reflections, categorized prayers, and other resources.

“We hope to integrate even more content and prayer, resources for parishes, and reflections from Pope Francis throughout the app,” said Phan. “There are many ways to actively engage in the faith.”

Youth and ministry leaders can find a helpful section within the app that outlines service opportunities, Safe Environment training, pastoral care, confirmation basics, and other useful links to help those involved. For parents, there are informative articles, materials and connections to groups that serve families. A link to the Diocese’s “Year of Mercy” page—providing parish resources, basic information, diocesan events and guides—can also be accessed.

“Orange YYA” can be downloaded free through the Apple App Store.

“The main goal is to connect Catholic young adults to God, the Church, and one another,” Phan said. “If we can help someone pray for even just a few minutes more a day or find a community they feel they belong to, then we’ve reached that goal.”