Become a Saint, Through Novena Prayer

I’m pleased to announce that we have released version 2.0 of our Pray: the Catholic Novena App!

The Novena Year In Review

A little over a year ago we launched the novena app, and to our delight it has helped tens of thousands of Catholics pray more novenas than they ever had in their life.

Our goal was to help Catholics pray (and complete!) more novenas, deepening their faith, and thus transforming the world for God and truth.

We launched with about 15 novenas, and each month I added more. We are now at 37 novenas and counting. We started with only an iPhone version, but through a successful Indiegogo campaign we crowd sourced the funds to pay a developer to port the app to Android.

Along the way, I’ve been inundated by emails every single day from Catholics praying novenas using the app. I wish I could have responded to every one of them, but just reading them has been a blessing.

Pray 2.0, Based on Your Feedback

No app is perfect, and over the past year we heard the feedback from our users on the features that would make the app better. We have begun implementing them and in the new version of the app on iOS the first one is already live: configurable reminders.

The app had a default reminder set to go off at 8 am each morning. Obviously that doesn’t work for some people, so now when you start a novena you can choose what time to get reminded to pray each day.

Boom! Now you’re reminded at just the time each day that you usually pray your novena.

You can also instantly add a reminder for the start of the novena to your iPhone’s calendar, so that the upcoming novena you don’t want to forget that starts in four days, will automatically notify you.

UI Refresh to Help You Pray

One neat thing about having so many faithful Catholics installing our app is that we can see on the backend the statistics:

  • How many people install the app, launch it, and immediately start praying a novena?
  • How many people install the app, and then some time later start a novena?
  • How many people install the app, butĀ never pray a novena?

This last use case was one that made us sad: the whole point of our app is to help Catholics pray novenas! So if someone gets the app and never prays a novena, we have failed to help them in their prayer life.

“Well,” you may say, “that happens sometimes, what can you do about it?”

In fact, we can do quite a lot. The initial experience after installing our app is…you get dropped into a list of novenas. It is not obvious what you are supposed to do, tap one of them? Scroll down? Which one is the next one?

So, my fellow Devoted Coder Chad Pav and I got our heads together and streamlined the app to make it clearer as to what you should do when you open the app for the first time, selecting the next few novenas that are starting soon and encouraging you to pray one of them.

Hint hint: pray the Immaculate Conception novena!

Now, some Catholics know the exact novena they want to pray, so they can tap the See all Novenas link or tap the Novenas tab in the bottom middle of the screen, and they will go to a list of novenas, grouped by month, with a handy search bar at the top.

This new design we think we funnel people into the action they are looking for, namely, to pray a novena! And once they have prayed a novena, if it is a new devotion for them, they will see the power of such prayer before the throne of God and be encouraged to continue to pray.

Immaculate Conception Novena Begins

Providentially, the Immaculate Conception novena begins today!

This novena was the first major one that our community prayed when we launched the app a year ago.

The novena is “locked”, and you can unlock it by becoming a patron for a small amount through an in-app purchase.

Originally, people could unlock novenas by sharing the app with their friends. But we received emails from people asking us to allow them to be patrons to unlock all novenas, as they had already invited all their friends to the app!

So we introduced the patronage model, and wonderfully, many people have become patrons, enabling us to continue adding novenas, features, and pay the monthly hosting bills.

Here’s to another year of growing in faith through novena prayers. Happy praying, happy Immaculate Conception novena starting, and happy beginning of Advent in just a few days.

God bless,
Devin & Chad
Devoted Coders

Pray Catholic Novena App–1 Year later

A year ago my friend Chad and I published Pray: the Catholic Novena App to the Apple app store.

Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect. Would Catholics find this app helpful in their prayer life?

I knew it helpedĀ me to remember to pray novenas and to not forget which day I was on, but would other Catholics find it similarly useful?

One Year, And Countless Novenas Later

Well, the verdict came in: Catholics loved the app. We were inundated with (mostly) five-star reviews, novena requests, and emails of thanks. We saw prayer warriors from Tanzania to England, the Philippines to Japan, Australia to Sweden and many countries in between.

We listened to what users wanted and implemented their requests in the app.

Along the way, I was touched by the heartfelt emails that people sent to me through the app–yes they all go right into my email–with requests for prayers on everything from cancer to depression, to finding their future spouse to conceiving children.

I could relate to most of these requests–I had prayed novenas for the very same hopes!–and so a community was born based around this ancient devotional practice within Christ’s Church.

Novenas Answered

During my single years, while seeking God’s vocation for my life, I prayed numerous novenas to St. Joseph for wisdom in discernment and then for the grace to meet my future wife.

It was through such prayers that I met my wife Catherine.

We hoped for children right away, but months passed and no children were conceived. So we prayed more novenas, and we conceived. We had such joy, but two months later we miscarried, the first first of three children we lost to miscarriage.

We turned again to God through novenas and conceived, and our son Edmund was born.

Again and again our Lord has been faithful to us through the prayers of the saints. Through the novenas, we have grown closer to these great saints as well, learning more about them, feeling a kinship with them in the communion of saints.

Androids Were Left Out

The only problem was: the Pray app was serving roughly half of Catholics: it was only on Apple devices like iPhones and iPads, not on Android ones. And given that many inexpensive Android devices are accessible and used by Catholics in developing countries and around the world, we needed to port the app to Android.

Technically speaking, this is a difficult task. It required a rewrite of the app using a different programming language on a completely different platform.

We did a crowdfunding campaign through IndieGogo and raised $1,300. Normally, that would not pay for even one-tenth of the price of a mobile app, but because Chad and I are programmers and have ties to the software development community, we were able to find a mutually beneficial situation with a up-and-coming Android developer. He was willing to write the app for almost the exact amount we had raised!

The result: we are now live in the Google Play store with the Pray app!

Novena Avalanche

I’ve been amazed at how many Catholics are now praying novenas with the app. Before the app, I prayed perhaps two novenas per year. In the past year, I prayed 19 novenas! The app made it that easy.

What’s also been amazing is how generous our patrons have been. Originally in the app, there was no way to pay for it (app was free) and no way to donate to our mission of spreading novena prayers around the world.

You could unlock novenas by sharing them with a friend. But people emailed me explaining they had already invited all their friends, or didn’t have many friends, so could they please just donate or pay us?

We listened and added in a patronage model. You could become a patron for $4.99 per year or $9.99 per year. You get the same benefits no matter which level you choose to become a patron at. The surprising result: half the patrons chose the higher level of patronage!

This was a big validation to us that our mission and execution of it in the app was helpful. People wanted us to continue work on the app, and so we have. By their generosity we have been able to add more features, more novenas, bring it to Android, and have many other plans for it.

Going on Right Now, Huge Novena

As this goes to publication, not only is the app now on Android, but also we’ve added the amazing Divine Mercy Novena to the app.

This novena and the Chaplet that goes with it has been a favorite of mine ever since I learned of it shortly after becoming Catholic. The Marians kindly gave me permission to add the novena to the app, for which I am grateful.

The app is becoming the #1 Catholic app in the world. Join us and begin to grow closer to God in prayer!