Open for 365 days of the year the Church of San Anton in Madrid has hauled itself into the 21st Century by recently embracing new technology. Introduced only last month it currently offers free wifi, live streaming of services from all over the world on wide screen televisions and a special confession App.
Having recently been taken over by the Messengers of Peace Foundation, (Mensajeros de la Paz), founded and chaired by Father Angel Garcia, it also has a full program of social and cultural activities, including foster care, social assistance, a clothing outlet and even facilities for a bank.
And not content with pushing technical boundaries, the church is also unique in welcoming animals, encouraging visitors to bring their two and their four-legged friends along to mass.
It is also manned 24 hour a day by a group of priests, spread over several shifts, who are always on hand to administer sacraments of continuous mode. The aim is that it will always be a place for reflection and dialogue, a caring home to share and an oasis of silence and prayer.
Father Angel, the driving force behind the initiative, said ".It hurts to find churches with closed doors. San Anton will always be open to anyone who needs help: for those who want to pray or confess, for those who need someone to listen, or who just required a hot coffee, indeed anyone who would like a warm drink. Visitors are welcome to stay for as long as they like, at any time of day.
San Anton is a 21st century church, it has embraced modern technology in order to make itself as welcoming as possible, to parishioners both of the human and animal variety.”
One of the priests on duty told us that the live-streams are mainly taken from the Vatican. They are supplemented by religious films and documentaries.
One of the San Anton’s main technical features is an iPad app to help the deaf and hard of hearing go to confession. People now are able type out their confession on an IPad and receive a typed answer from the priest. This saves any embarrassment that they might be caused by having to shout.
Father Angel said he was "very happy" because the project has the blessing and support of Carlos Osorio, the Archbishop of Madrid who was responsible for inviting in the Messengers of Peace Foundation.
The Church of San Anton is popularly known because of its affiliation to animals which are blessed on 17 January, the feast of its patron saint. Such blessings, along with the social and traditional religious activities, will be further developed in the coming months.
And as part of its determination to welcome everyone into the church, San Anton is thinking considering the introduction of a Sunday mass in English for tourists and residents in Madrid.
With the recent acknowledgement that half of all Spaniards no longer practice their religion and one in five insisting that they are "confirmed atheists" perhaps the introduction of similar measures in other churches across the country will help reverse the dramatic loss of faith in what has always been known as a traditionally Roman Catholic Country.
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/47121/
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