Our Lady of Lourdes Church’s new touch-screen machine allows parishioners to offer Masses easily and a cashless way to give stipends.Our Lady of Lourdes Church’s new touch-screen machine allows parishioners to offer Masses easily and a cashless way to give stipends.Lady of Lourdes parishioner Shirley Joseph can now offer Masses for her prayer intentions at a time convenient to her and offer stipends without using cash.

The church, located at Ophir Road, now has an electronic touch-screen terminal which allows parishioners to select the intentions for the Masses, the Mass time, and offer their financial contributions through NETS.

The device was officially launched on Easter Sunday.

“This is a good idea,” Ms Joseph told CatholicNews. “Not only is it convenient, it is also environment-friendly. All you need to do is press a couple of buttons. You can also make multiple bookings and you don’t need multiple envelopes.”

Having a self-service terminal, located outside the parish office, also means she can offer Masses without having to wait for the office to open.

Said parish priest Fr Augustine Joseph: “With this self-service terminal, we’ve got an efficient and eco-friendly system because we do away with the old system of filling out envelopes and parishioners can use NETS.”

He noted that “previously, some people were unsure whether the payment was received as they dropped filled-out envelopes in a box outside the office. The terminal also prints out a receipt so there is a record of the transaction”.

The idea for the terminal was mooted by parish administrator Adolph John.

He said that when he became parish administrator in 2011, he began thinking of a “Mass intentions” system which was “smoother and foolproof”.

He then spoke to an IT consultant and tried to brainstorm some of the issues.

The consultant’s company then came up with the software and “we had a few rounds of testing and troubleshooting to improve the system”, said Mr John.

“Finally, we came up with a system where people can use the system and pay with NETS,” he said, adding that the system also works for donations to the church.

Mr John said the parish is happy to share this idea with other parishes.

Meanwhile, air-conditioning was installed in the church in mid March, after an apparently long wait.

Fr Joseph said the move had to be approved by the Preservation of Monuments Board as the parish is a gazetted national monument.

The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (http://www.lourdes.sg/) at Ophir Road was founded in 1888. It has about equal numbers of Tamil and English speaking members among its 2,500 parishioners. Masses in English, Tamil and Sinhalese are held on weekends.

By Don Guguray

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