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App popularizes breviary among Catholics

Priest's phone innovation lets Chinese say prayers

App popularizes breviary among Catholics
Fr Paul Leung demonstrating the app reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

November 23, 2011

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It is becoming more common these days in Hong Kong to see people in public places reading, watching videos, playing games or texting friends, while being completely oblivious to the world around them. This phenomenon coupled with a change in people’s reading habits has inspired a middle-aged priest to develop a new app to promote daily prayer among the Catholics. The “iBreviarium,” a Chinese language app developed by Father Paul Leung Kai-kwong, provides daily Mass readings, breviary, prayers, liturgical information and stories of Church saints for people to pray and meditate. Since it was launched for the iPhone for free in August, about 2,000 people have been using it. Users no longer have to download the app from iTunes, as Fr Leung has added a QR code that makes it more convenient for downloading. The Android version, which became available on November 16, is also free of charge. He hopes more laypeople make use of this app to pray the breviary, which is not a “monopoly” of priests and Religious, he said. Fr Leung, who served in Rome for around 20 years, decided to create a digital breviary in Chinese after noticing an online Italian one in 2005. He began by creating a Chinese breviary website and then thought of putting the breviary into a smartphone in early 2011. During a workshop on November 19, the Salesian priest introduced the app to about 200 people and demonstrated how to download and use it. “A priest wrote to tell me he failed to say the breviary every day because he was too busy, now he says he is happy because the new app allows him to pray whenever he can find a quiet corner,” Fr Leung said. Another priest in Taiwan bought an iPhone as soon as he found out about the app, he said. Though Fr Leung believes young people spend too much time on their smartphones, he thinks the Church should look after their spiritual needs by putting more Catholic content onto the Internet. Anna Chan Kai-yung and Salesian Fr Domingos Leong, both experts in sacred liturgy, also explained to the workshop participants the structure of the breviary and why the faithful should say it. “The pope is encouraging people to evangelize with new technology. So it is good if we are willing to say the breviary, no matter what tool we use,” said Chan. “Only don’t forget that our phone batteries will run down sometimes,” she said. Related reports: Church to harness web for evangelism Church should bite into the Apple legacy Net prophets struggle in China
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