Messaging application popular with Spanish speakers offers new way for Catholics to stay connected with Church community
To read the Spanish version of this article, click here.
DETROIT — The Archdiocese of Detroit has been working for years to make engaging resources and evangelization materials available to the Hispanic community.
In 2020, the archdiocese launched Detroit Catholic en Español, a news website entirely in Spanish to complement its English-language publication, Detroit Catholic.
Far beyond language, the archdiocese seeks to be close to its Hispanic community by listening to their interests, concerns, immersion in the Latino culture, and everyday life, said Edmundo Reyes, director of communications for the archdiocese. For this reason, the department has decided to venture into the platform most used by Hispanics: WhatsApp.
The messaging app, which has more than 2 billion users worldwide but is used by less than 25% of the population in the United States, has a usage rate close to 70% for the country's Hispanics.
“In his pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, Archbishop (Allen H.) Vigneron encourages us to cultivate a spirit of innovation to bring the good news to the people of southeast Michigan and beyond," Reyes said. "This new WhatsApp service is an example of this spirit and a response to the call to serve our communities so that more Spanish-speaking Catholics can be inspired and formed through the content of Detroit Catholic en Español and other services of the Archdiocese of Detroit.”
Latinos and WhatsApp
WhatsApp is a useful and accessible platform for Latinos who have migrated to the United States either recently or decades ago, as well as for Latinos born in the country, helping them connect with family and friends who live both far away and in the same city.
WhatsApp is a space for connection and entertainment, but it has become one of the platforms on which Latinos consume the most news. It is also an important channel in communication, marketing, and community-building for companies and nonprofits today.
Hispanic Catholics throughout the United States have created WhatsApp groups to stay in touch and share reflections and news, as well as to keep up with local events. Often, this occurs informally and through groups in which there is no privacy and telephone numbers are visible to all, resulting in potential security vulnerabilities.
The Archdiocese of Detroit, however, is among the first dioceses in the United States to use WhatsApp to connect in an agile and secure manner with local Hispanics.
By sending a message on WhatsApp, users can learn about events, news and faith-formation content in the archdiocese, specifically those geared toward Hispanics, as well as recommend and share information, without the need to join a WhatsApp group and safeguard their privacy.
By sending the message to the WhatsApp number for Detroit Catholic en Español, users will receive options to see the latest Catholic news directly in the app; find churches offering Mass times in Spanish; read and listen to a meditation for Eucharistic adoration led by Auxiliary Bishop Arturo Cepeda and Catholic influencer Clara Cuevas; and request coverage of an event or an interview by the digital newspaper of the archdiocese.
More features will be added soon, including information about the dozens of local groups and movements for Hispanics, as well as contests, virtual activities and in-person events.
Those who send a message to the assigned number will receive the WhatsApp version of Detroit Catholic en Español's weekly bulletin in Spanish every Thursday, said Michael Stechschulte, editor-in-chief of Detroit Catholic.
“Detroit Catholic en Español is the primary vehicle for communicating with and providing quality news content to our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Detroit," Stechschulte said. "With these new methods of outreach, we hope to provide even more high-impact content in a way that’s most convenient and approachable for our readers."
WhatsApp: Three Ways to Start
1.) Click here to open WhatsApp either on a computer or cellphone (users may need to download the application first).
2.) When the application opens, send the text that already appears or write "hello" and send it.
1.) Add the number (313) 488-2803 as a cellphone contact.
2.) Open WhatsApp, search for the contact and send the message “hello”.
For those who are on the computer and do not have WhatsApp web:
1.) Scan the QR on a cellphone.
2.) When the application is opened, you only need to send the text that already appears or write “hello”.
Detroit-area Catholics are encouraged to share the newly saved contact with their Hispanic friends in the community and invite them to send a message with the word “Hello.”