COLLECTION plates around Brisbane have been collecting dust instead of coins and notes for the past eight weeks but a new app is giving parishioners a chance to donate to their parish once more.
The Parish Giving app for the Archdiocese of Brisbane was released at the end of April, several weeks after parishes were told to suspend Masses and close churches until further notice.
Retired grandmother Marie Shea, 74, is a parishioner and cantor at St Patrick’s Church, Fortitude Valley, but due to COVID-19, is housebound in her Clayfield apartment.
“I decided I was sort of feeling that I needed to do something because we weren’t going to Mass on a Sunday,” Mrs Shea said.
“I had had an envelope to do the collections – of course I wasn’t using them because we weren’t going to Mass.
“I was thinking, ‘This isn’t right – the church needs the money somehow’.”
Mrs Shea registered to use the Parish Giving web app and within minutes was set up to give a monthly donation.
She had more success using the new app than trying to join a video call with her four children on her iPad.
To date, 27 parishes have registered to use the Parish Giving app in Brisbane.
In the Logan suburb of Regents Park, St Bernadine’s Church parish secretary Christy Gracias said the Parish Giving app answered a need in the community to give back to the Church.
The number of people who take up the app in Regents Park was irrelevant.
“Whether one or 50, it’s one or 50 more people who are able to give us money,” Mrs Gracias said.
Despite the parish losing 50 per cent of their income, Mrs Gracias said it was putting the needs of families first.
“Very much, if you’re family needs (money) first, look after your family,” she said.
Mrs Gracias said the funds would be used to continue building community through virtual resources.
This includes video calls with Catholics going through their sacramental programs, including primary school children and adults who had planned on becoming Catholic at Easter, and virtual youth group meetings.
On Brisbane’s northside, parish priest of Little Flower Church, Kedron, Franciscan Father Mario Debattista said the app was “another opportunity for people to give if they want to give”.
“It just gives another opportunity for people to offer something to the parish, which we appreciate especially at this time,” Fr Debattista said.
Fr Debattista acknowledged that older parishioners might “prefer the old-fashioned way” of giving to the parish but said “it is definitely a help”.
The Parish Giving app was developed free of charge by Webgate Technology and supported by the Archdiocesan Development Fund, which was established in 1969 to finance the expansion of the Brisbane archdiocese.
ADF manager Cheryl Caughley said they had begun work with a developer one year before the pandemic “to look for alternate options and cash free alternatives” for parishioners to give to their parish.
Mrs Caughley said although it was initially developed for the Brisbane archdiocese, the app had the potential to be rolled out nationally.
“The App was designed with other dioceses in mind, so it can potentially be rolled out to other dioceses within a short amount of time,” she said.
“Currently, Archdiocese of Perth is looking to introduce the app to its parishes.”
The Parish Giving app is available on Android, Apple and through a web application at https://parishgiving.brisbanecatholic.org.au/.