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Computer science students expand Faith Finder app to Greensburg Diocese

February 26, 2014


faith finder greensburg

Saint Francis computer science students developed a popular “Faith Finder” application (app) for the nearby Altoona/Johnstown Diocese. Students spent months writing the code and testing the app that enables a smart phone user to conveniently find churches in the Altoona/ Johnstown Diocese by distance, mass time, and confession time. That app officially launched in July 2013, and its popularity and number of users quickly grew. The Greensburg Diocese heard about Faith Finder and started to test its features and functionality. Karen Cornell, information technology director for the Greensburg Diocese, said, “I was impressed by how well the app was done, so we contacted Saint Francis about the possibility of creating a similar app for our diocese.”

Dr. Dan Wetklow, professor of computer science at Saint Francis, had initial conversations with Cornell and agreed to develop an app to help people who live or travel through the Greensburg Diocese locate churches and mass times conveniently through a smart phone.

“I wanted to help and also wanted to find the best way to make the app efficient and usable,” said Dr. Wetklow. He consulted with Mike Shanafelt, senior programmer and analyst at the Center of Excellence for Remote and Medically Under-Served Areas (CERMUSA) at Saint Francis, and the two agreed that the best solution was to modify the Faith Finder app so that it included the Greensburg Diocese, rather than creating a separate app for the diocese.

Users can now enter the Faith Finder App and choose if they want to view mass and confession times in Altoona/Johnstown or Greensburg. The Greensburg piece of the application searches through their diocese’s 85 churches. Brian Evans, web content developer for the Greensburg Diocese, knows the community is pleased with the app. “We've received positive feedback on how useful the app is for seeing prayers, days of obligation, and location and time information,” said Evans.

The app is free to download, standard data usage rates apply. Users who have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch may download the app at: http://bit.ly/17Dy6A2. The app has already been downloaded more than 700 times.

Saint Francis was able to make the development of the app available to the Altoona/ Johnstown and Greensburg dioceses through the Joseph ’58 and Marguerite (Scharpf) ’60 DiSepio Chair in Computer Science. Established in 2001, the endowment is committed to raising the level of excellence within the computer science department at Saint Francis. The endowment funds faculty development, a distinguished lecture series, student internship programs and research and practices in the field of security and information assurance. The chair covered all of the development costs of the Faith Finder App.

Dr. Wetklow enjoys being able to give students this practical application of their studies and wants to expand the app to further dioceses in the state.