The first electronic Catholic calendar in mainland China became available to the public this week, tapping into the growing use of smartphones and the internet.
Incorporating the Gregorian and Chinese lunar calendars with the Church’s ordo (the calendar that prescribes daily Mass), the app also provides the breviary to make daily prayers more convenient for the laity’s spiritual lives.
“Mainland Catholics attach great importance to Lent, during which they strictly avoid any marriages and thus they need to know ahead when Ash Wednesday starts,” said Father Joseph Li, director of Faith Press.
A middle-aged laywoman Teresa welcomed the new app, hoping it would help her son who works in a city to practice his faith as he cannot find a church nearby.
The program underwent nearly two months’ testing before launching. In just two days, the Shijiazhuang-based Faith Press has received a number of feedbacks giving “suggestions about the layout and contents, such as adding daily scripture readings,” said John Guo, who heads Faith Press's research and development team.
The calendar covers nearly three decades from 2011 to 2037. It is searchable on the website while the smartphone app can only read related information and prayers of the day.
Faith Press also plans to develop an app that will allow people to search parish Mass times, contact information and bus routes in cities across China.
“One of our development directions is to provide products that are with practical value and are close to the life of internet users,” said Father Li.
According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, there were nearly 1.1 billion mobile subscribers as of October and the number of internet users has passed 500 million.
In Mary Meeker’s “2012 Internet Trends” released on Wednesday, China has 270 millions smartphone users, more than any other country.