.- A new iPhone app called “Ignio” is designed to help Catholics deepen their faith by featuring a digital flame that grows and shrinks according to how much the user prays for friends, attends Mass or reads Scripture.
“It enables Millennials and others to connect, ignite and unite their faith through a technology portal,” developer Andres Ruzo told CNA, adding that it will help give the younger generation “a better connection with their faith.”
While Facebook allows its users to have thousands of virtual “friends” around the world, Ignio designers intended to create a different “spiritual community” that allows real time connection through prayer.
To light the candle and activate the app, the user must physically bump iPhones with someone else who has the program.
After activation, users join small prayer circles no larger than 12 people. They can “check in” each time they participate in religious activities, notifying those in their circle about their actions. Each action grows the digital candle’s flame by a preset amount.
Users can also share prayer intentions on a prayer wall and read a private report about their past actions.
Ignio, whose name comes from the Latin word for “ignite,” is the project of WeDoBelieve, an organization of Catholic businesspeople that funds trend savvy evangelization efforts and products.
The app development team included the organization’s five co-founders: Roberto Skertchly, Andres Ruzo, Flip Caderao, Jonathan Ogle and Brandon Copely.
Ruzo—CEO of the telecommunications company LinkAmerica—explained to CNA on Nov. 10 that the virtual candle’s changing size is “a way to tell you if you’re really engaging with your spiritual life, and if it’s really an important enough priority.”
“It keeps you accountable,” he said, noting that the program is intended to reach out to the “Millennial” generation born after 1980.
“What we’re trying to do is bring to this material world a connection to the virtual world that is more connected to the spiritual side. How do you do that? Through creating communities,” Ruzo said.
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas formally launched the app on Aug. 21 at Dallas’ Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The app was released to the public on Oct. 21.
“I applaud the efforts of these faithful Catholics to join our Holy Father in using technology to evangelize, and I appreciate their work to bring all of us, especially young people, a very relevant way to deepen our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ,” the bishop said ahead of the launch.
There are about 5,000 users of the app so far, Ruzo reported. The iPhone app is available free of charge in the iTunes app store. A version for the Android operating system is under development.
The app’s website is http://www.ign.io.