Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Gone are the days when regularly discussing one's favorite works of art in the Vatican Museums and funding the restoration of historic pieces was limited to a very small group of people.

"Patrum," an app launched in mid-August by the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, is "the first ever cultural institution app bringing together instant chat technology, crowd-source fundraising and online community building," according to its website.

Juliana Biondo, the digital initiatives manager for the patrons group, told Catholic News Service that while finding people to help fund projects was important, it was not the main goal.

"Patrum is intended for people who can't get to the Vatican," she said in a telephone interview Oct. 15. The Vatican is "a world treasure, so the question is, how do we make a world treasure accessible to someone who can't travel the distance?"

The app is doing just that; analytic software shows that there have been more than 5,300 downloads and the number of users is increasing every day.

The growing usership "is the most satisfying thing because I know I spent a lot of time thinking about how to present the information to make it acceptable, approachable, readable and interesting," Biondo said.

The app was designed to expand the "patrons" of the Vatican Museums to more than just the people visiting the museum in person.

"It was quite a feat to be able to integrate donation technology into the app, and we're looking to add some more user functionality just in terms of having fun," Biondo said. "But I think that the cool thing about the app is that it's pretty new in the cultural institution field."

Through the app users can choose to donate a minimum of $10 to a restoration project. For those hoping to make larger donations, there's an option to become a patron. Patrons have chapters in different cities around the world and members adopt various projects to restore with their pooled funds.

On average, one to two people apply to become a patron each month; since the app launched a total of 13 have inquired, Biondo said.

The app has a daily news feed and four categories:

– "Idea," which gives fun facts about the museums' collections, the pope, papal gardens and more.

– "Person," which spotlights a museum staff member, curator or patron.

– "Event," where one can find various events patron chapters are hosting worldwide.

– "Restoration Projects," where one can find projects that need restoration funding.

There is also a push notification capability that notifies users whenever something they have previously shown interest in is updated.

The news pieces can be saved to a "My Interests" page for later referral and can also spur conversation through the apps chat feature.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.