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A Catholic app to expand parish life for young adults

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Koin creates Catholic communities to fan the flames of young faith.

The internet is an invaluable platform for resource management, with applications that open services in high demand, like ride and home sharing. Some of the most popular sites and apps are those that crowdsource or connect people, where visions can be brought to life or lifelong friendships can be forged.

Catholics understand that there is a power that comes from being part of a community, especially when it is shared with Christ, and that’s just what makes the new mobile app Koin so valuable. Named after the Greek word Koinonia, meaning “Christian communion,” Koin is on a mission to establish long-lasting communities among Catholic young adults.

Eric Niehaus, co-creator of Koin, recently spoke with Christine Rousselle of CNA about the project, which he noted exists to reach young adult Catholics, because he believes that they are “the group most in need of community.” He told Rousselle:

“No one stays after Mass to talk, and very few people attend parish events, so it’s difficult to meet everyone within our parish, let alone our diocese. This unfortunately means that we miss out on the vast majority of what would have been the best possible relationships, whether romantic, platonic, or professional.”

Niehaus, who lives just outside Washington, D.C., explained that the idea came when he traveled to New York for a conference, where he met someone who lived just five minutes from him, back in D.C. The two became fast friends and both of them remarked on how strange it was that they lived so close together, but had met by chance in a city nearly 250 miles away from their homes.

Koin will allow users to create and join groups with specific interests, although the overarching theme will always be Catholic. The program will help Catholic young adults connect to explore their interests outside church with other faith-oriented people of similar age. Neihaus compared the groups formed through the app to the tight-knit communities of Protestant churches.

“In Protestantism, there seems to be a strong and near-ubiquitous expectation of active engagement: everyone speaks to each other before and after church; everyone joins a Bible study; everyone hangs out with each other outside of that hour on Sunday,”

In comparison, Niehaus said, the Catholic communities have little to do with the church after Sunday service:

“Most [young adult Catholics] won’t sing in a choir,” he said, but “many would love to host an after-Mass brunch, or go on a hike, or pursue one of their more niche interests that parishes … don’t have the resources to sponsor.”

While prayer groups and more religious activities are certainly welcomed, Koin gives its users an outlet to explore their shared passions in just about anything from outdoor adventures to sports, gaming, movies, and more. They do note that groups or events that run counter to Church teaching will be banned.

It is the hope of the creators of Koin that this app may help stymie the decline of religious interest in the younger generations. Niehaus noted that a recent survey has shown that more than 10% of young people who have left the Church of late cited a lack of community as the reason for their departure.

Koin is preparing to launch in Washington. D.C., and interested parties can already sign up to be active from the very beginning. If the app does well, they hope to bring the project to other major American cities, such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Los Angeles. For more information visit the Koin website.

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