This July saw a unique technical innovation in Hungarian Jesuit church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was the first time in the country that a Paypass terminal was installed in a church for an alternative to the traditional way of offerings. The stand, set up in one of the corners of the building, is meant to serve those who do not carry cash on them, but would like to support their beloved community by way of this digital “collection box”.
As Árpád Horváth SJ, director of the church said in his press statement, this innovation is an answer to the practical consequences of a joyful pastoral development. The Jesuit church, in the very heart of Budapest, is filled with a growing number of young adults from Sunday to Sunday, attending mostly the famous 8 pm mass on the last day of the week. Since they tend to use a credit or debit card rather than cash for payment, it was inevitable to develop handy means for them to support the church.
However, besides this practical answer, the Jesuits also found a liturgical solution to the sweet problem of their church having become overcrowded.
They introduced another mass, from 10 pm on Sunday, for those who cannot catch or get into the earlier ones, or simply would like to attend a silent, homely examen-mass to reflect on their week behind and get spiritual keynotes for the days ahead.
The buttons of the Paypass terminal offer three amounts (500, 1000, 3000 HUF) to choose from, each enjoying similar popularity for the time being. What is more, the statistics of the first month show no signs of “cannibalisation”, that is the weekly 80-100 thousand HUF (appr. 1000 EUR) digital offering has not reduced the content of the conventional collection box. It is all the more important that these days the church is coming to the end of a massive and costly reconstruction. Its hundred-year-old organ, the roof and the interior of the building is being thoroughly renewed, and the Jesuits launched a campaign to increase awareness for responsibility under the motto “Let’s maintain our church together”.
The digital innovation was mostly welcomed and saw a nearly unprecedentedly wide-ranging press appearance, with a few comments about “such a terminal being an improper device in the house of God”.
Our hope is that as everyone will get used to the terminal, and maybe the example will be followed by other churches, the critics will realize that this is just another way to collect the very same offerings. Besides, what really matters is the spirit that drives the donor – may he/she drop the money into a wooden or metal box, or push the buttons on a plastic stand.