The Augusta Chronicle in the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia reports: "Ads call Catholics back to church"

The Catholics Come Home® TV Commercials will be airing in the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia and state-wide in less than a month.  The Augusta Chronicle  reports, below:

By Kelly Jasper
Staff Writer
Friday, Nov. 19, 2010

Twenty years ago, Cristine Bays left the Catholic Church. There was no big pronouncement or public protest.

“I had just drifted away,” said Bays, an Evans mother of three.

Cristine Bays spent most of her adult life going to church off and on, but after an illness about three years ago she committed to attending church full time. "I've always felt at home in the Catholic Church. I wish all people felt it was their home."  Corey Perrine/Staff

photo: Corey Perrine/Staff, Cristine Bays spent most of her adult life going to church off and on, but after an illness about three years ago she committed to attending church full time. "I've always felt at home in the Catholic Church. I wish all people felt it was their home."

The same is true for millions of Catholics who don’t attend weekly Mass, or who have fallen away from religion entirely or become Protestant.

A new program — half evangelism effort, half public relations campaign — issues an invitation to out-of-practice Catholics across Georgia.

Television commercials created by the nonprofit lay organization Catholics Come Home will air on network and cable television from Dec. 17 to Jan. 23. The commercials, in English and Spanish, will air during prime time. Some celebrate church history; others show the testimony of Catholics who have “come home.”

The Catholic Diocese of Savannah raised $160,000 to air the commercials throughout its 90 counties, including Richmond and Columbia.

The Catholics Come Home ad campaign will air in prime time cable and network television from Dec. 17 through Jan. 23 in the 90 counties of the Diocese of Savannah. Watch the commercials and learn more at catholicscomehome.org

The Catholics Come Home ad campaign will air in prime time cable and network television from Dec. 17 through Jan. 23 in the 90 counties of the Diocese of Savannah. Watch the commercials and learn more at catholicscomehome.org

The average American watches four hours of TV a day, making the campaign one of the most effective ways to bring Catholics back to the church, said Tom Peterson, a former marketing executive who founded Georgia-based Catholics Come Home in 1998.

He was “nominally Catholic” until attending a retreat in Arizona, which renewed his faith.

“God was calling me to use my advertising talents to serve him,” Peterson said. “The light bulbs went off, and the adventure began.”

He moved to Roswell, Ga., to grow the ministry. Since its founding, some 200,000 Catholics have returned to the church. When the commercials were launched in the Phoenix market, 92,000 Catholics returned. “That was just in one city,” Peterson said.

On average, each diocese sees Mass attendance increase 10 percent.

Most, like Bays, don’t have serious issues with the church but have fallen out of the habit of regular church attendance, Peterson said. Catholics Come Home’s research has shown that the average Catholic who leaves then returns to the church has been away for nine years.

It took a personal invitation for Bays to return, she said. During a hospital stay three years ago, she was visited daily by churchgoers.

“It was the push I needed,” said Bays, now a member of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Grovetown, where her husband, Brian, will soon convert to Catholicism.

Augusta parishes were recently visited by Bishop J. Kevin Boland and other leaders in the diocese. They’re traveling the state to deliver workshops on how to deal with the influx of members.

“We know we have to be more welcoming. It’s everything from opening doors to saying hello and offering a doughnut or two. It’s the stuff Protestants figured out years ago,” Joe Soparas said with a laugh. He and his wife, Mary, are coordinators of St. Teresa’s Catholics Come Home program.

Priests are also setting aside time to meet with those returning to the church or grappling with issues, said the Rev. Michael Lubinsky, the parochial vicar of The Church of the Most Holy Trinity in downtown Augusta.

“Catholics Come Home is a process for all Catholics, inactive and active, by which all are invited to come to the Lord by the holy sacraments of love and mercy and affection and forgiveness,” he said.

From 2000 to 2010, only 22 percent of U.S. Catholics attended Mass on a weekly basis, according to a poll by CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a nonprofit Georgetown University-affiliated research center that studies the Catholic Church. That speaks to the millions of Americans who identify as Catholic but aren’t practicing Catholics, Peterson said.

“This is an invitation for them, too,” he said.

With at least 68 million members, the Catholic Church claims more adherents than any other American denomination, about 22 percent of the U.S. population. With membership waning, 1 in 10 Americans identifies as a former Catholic, according to the most recent Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, compiled in 2008.

“For the most part, it’s really the secular lures of the world that pull people away. Life gets busy,” Peterson said. “Ninety percent say they’d come back if someone invited them.”

Catholics Come Home usually runs its six-week campaigns through the Christmas season or Lent.

“It’s a great time to issue an invitation,” Peterson said.

“Most people see the ad on TV and say, ‘I started to tear up. I felt like God was personally calling me home.’ ”
read entire article

Please Keep the Diocese of Savannah, and all of our CCH Diocesan Partners in Your Prayers as they Prepare for these Important Evangelization Initiatives!
Learn more about bringing CatholicsComeHome.org TV commercials to your diocese

“Reflections on Our Lady of Guadalupe”

Check out this article from the Integrated Catholic Life by the Carmelite Sisters on Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“She came to a nation who was once invincible, yet now a broken and broken-hearted people. And she called herself “your Merciful Mother.” In calling herself thus, our Lady reveals her message of compassion and her solidarity with all of that which is weak, broken and humbled within us. She spares nothing of herself in coming to us: neither her garments nor her skin are spared in this extravagant gesture of love toward her children – a tender embrace wherein we are caught up in the crossing of her arms and in the folds of her mantle. It is here, in her very bosom, where she gathers up all of the scattered fragments of our lives into a single unity in love. In this tender exchange every heart finds solace, strength and renewed hope. Yes, even the most sinful and dejected heart can lay claim to the merciful love of this noble Queen. Thank God! Thank God!…”

Thanking and Encouraging Those Who Serve

Thank You To the Veterans Who Serve Our Country and the Priests who Serve Christ’s Catholic Church.  Enjoy the Inspiring article, below:

TheBostonPilotcom

Veterans DayThanking and Encouraging Those Who Serve
Very Reverend Richard M. Erikson, Ph.D., V.G.
Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia
Archdiocese of Boston

A few weeks ago, I had a very encouraging experience as I flew on an overnight trip to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. For the first time in many years, in my service as an Air Force Reserve Chaplain, I was on a commercial airline in military uniform. I was inspired and humbled by the thanks offered to me throughout the trip by total strangers. At Logan Airport, for example, as I headed to the baggage claim area, I heard someone calling out to me, “Excuse me, sir.” I turned around, thinking perhaps I had dropped something, to be greeted by a young woman, with her hand extended to shake my hand, saying, “I just want to thank you for your service to our country.”

The people who greeted me did not know me personally; it was seeing the uniform that I was wearing that prompted them to offer their words of support and gratitude. Consistently, I am struck how strongly the people of the United States support and encourage our troops who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the country. Indeed, in numerous churches, liturgies and parish bulletins, prayers of support and care are offered regularly for our young men and women serving overseas. Viet Nam veterans will tell you this was not always the case. I am delighted that we make a special effort today to express our gratitude to veterans who were not often thanked during the time of their service. Thankfully, our Veterans Day honors all veterans.

When I travel in priestly clothing the usual reaction I experience is significantly different.  If I am lucky I might hear a polite “hello, Father.”  Sometimes people avert their eyes or turn away.  The most common response is distance and reserve.  In today’s culture and circumstances, strangers do not often stop and thank priests for their service.

A priest does not search for thanks or for praise from others; his source of strength is in the Lord. For me, to be a priest remains a humbling and enormously privileged experience.  People invite the priest into the most personal and challenging moments of their lives, times of great joy and deep sorrow. Yet, while the life of a priest is profoundly fulfilling, there are some challenging and difficult times.

Your expressions of gratitude can encourage priests in good times and in challenging times. Think of the ways a priest may have touched your life recently: by officiating at the marriage of a family member, celebrating the baptism of a new grandchild, bringing the Holy Eucharist to a family member in a hospital or nursing home, teaching the faith to the next generation of young Catholics, witnessing faith and joy through the reverent celebration of Mass and the preaching of the Gospel in your parish.  Many priests who have served you in the past continue to pray for you today.  There is much to be grateful for in the service of our priests who offer their lives to lead everyone to the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ.

EncouragePriests.org LOGO 041610Recently, as I was watching our excellent CatholicTV show “This Is the Day,” I heard reference to a newly established website whose mission is to encourage priests in their ministry: www.EncouragePriests.org.   I invite you to visit this website and to explore their suggestions on ways to express your gratitude to the priests who have generously served you and others in God’s family.

The 13th century Dominican Meister Eckhardt wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” As we honor our veterans this week, and express our deep appreciation to them, we also thank those who selflessly serve us in the Church: priests, deacons, consecrated religious, lay ecclesial ministers, volunteer lay women and men. Our faith lives are enriched because of you!  To those who serve our country and to those who serve our church: thank you.

CatholicsComeHome.org Encourages You To Thank a Veteran, and a Priest Today!

Wisdom from Blessed Mother Teresa

“Don’t search for Jesus in far lands–he is not there. He is close to you; he is with you. Just keep the lamimagesCAQ477T0p burning and you will always see him. Keep on filling the lamp with all these little drops of love, and you will see how sweet is the Lord you love.”

“Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.”

Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us.

The Savannah Morning News Reports the CatholicsComeHome.org Diocesan Partner Initiative

CatholicsComeHome.org TV Commercials will be airing state-wide in Georgia in less than 40 days.  The Savannah Morning News reports, below:

Ad campaign to call home lapsed Catholics

Diocese officials encourage members to extend open arms to long inactive believers
By Dana Clark Felty
2010-11-05

The commercial moves from scenes of a mariachi band and a 19th century hospital to a modern classroom and a wedding.

A soothing male voice speaks over the images.

“We are the largest charitable organization on the planet,” it says. “We educate more children than any other scholarly or religious institution. We developed the scientific method and laws of evidence. We founded the college system.”

“We are Catholic. Welcome home.”

Leaders at the Catholic Diocese of Savannah are hoping the ad campaign speaks to the estimated 10 percent of the population who describe themselves as former Catholics.

The video is one of up to 30 different television commercials set to air on network and cable television throughout the state from Dec. 17 to Jan. 23. Commercials will be broadcast in English and in Spanish.

The 30-second to two-minute advertisements were created by CatholicsComeHome.org , a Roswell-based organization founded by former advertising executive Tom Peterson.

“A bunch of us lay Catholics started this because we’ve had a reversion in our faith and we want to share this joy we have now with our family, friends and neighbors,” Peterson said.

The commercials have aired in 13 dioceses and archdioceses around the country.

Peterson said more than 200,000 former Catholics have “come home,” as well as new converts, because of the ads.

“It has increased Mass attendance by more than 10 percent in dioceses that have partnered with us,” he said.

To measure its impact, diocesan leaders are asking parishes to compare Mass attendances this October to next October’s numbers.

The Catholic Diocese of Savannah and the Archdiocese of Atlanta separately solicited donations to pay for the ads to run at the same time throughout the state.
click to read entire article

Please Keep the Diocese of Savannah, and all of our CCH Diocesan Partners in Your Prayers as they Prepare for these Important Evangelization Initiatives!
Learn more about bringing CatholicsComeHome.org TV commercials to your diocese

What Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Shepherd of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, has "Seen and Heard" about CatholicsComeHome.org

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, Shepherd of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, shares his words of wisdom and support for the Catholics Come Home® partner initiative.  Read an excerpt below from his column “What I’ve Seen and Heard” from The Georgia Bulletin, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta:

GA Bulletin

What I Have Seen And Heard

MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY

Published: October 28, 2010

Last Monday evening I had to fly to New York City for a Tuesday meeting of a committee that I serve on with Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Cardinal William Keeler, Bishop Basil Losten and a number of Reform rabbis and Catholic and Jewish leaders. This dialogue has been going on now for several years and aims at bolstering the honored bonds that unite Catholics and Jews in our country. It is a fascinating venture and one in which I am pleased to participate.

We recently have focused our conversations on some issues that impact both of our communities. Last spring, we discussed the disturbing trend of the loss of our people to other religious traditions or to no religious practice at all. Both of our faiths suffer from this disturbing trend, and we have much to learn from one other in finding ways to stem this tide.

Our topic this past week addressed the issue of contemporary marriage practices and attitudes among young Jewish and Catholic adults. Again, there were many issues that both faiths seem to share in common. While our faith traditions are obviously distinct, the challenges that we face are often stunningly similar.

As I was preparing to board the flight from Atlanta to LaGuardia, two folks approached quite independently to tell me that they had seen the video about “Catholics Come Home®” at their parishes the weekend before, and they were very impressed with and supportive of this effort. I could not have been more pleased with their responses.

As you have perhaps heard, the Archdiocese of Atlanta will embark on this effort this coming Advent as an opportunity to welcome home those Catholics who may have drifted from the practice of our Faith. Catholics Come Home® has proven highly successful in the nearly 20 dioceses that have previously used this program. There are literally millions of U. S. Catholics who have stopped practicing our Faith. Not all of them have done so because of a negative experience or in protest. A great many of them have simply fallen out of the custom of attending Mass or failed to reengage once they relocated to another community, or just found their lives too cluttered with other personal or social obligations.

We need to welcome them back home and that is the express purpose of this endeavor called Catholics Come Home. We also must welcome those back home who have had serious and painful personal encounters with our Church.

As the Catholic and Jewish representatives discussed the trends in our own communities regarding the disassociation of our people from the faiths of their childhood, we all recognized similar forces in our worlds that lead many of our people away from the practice of their faiths. While some observers might suggest the highly publicized and promoted growing irrelevance of organized religion, or the widespread scandals that have plagued all public institutions of every stripe, or the personal negative encounters that some people might have had with a cleric or a religious institution, the simple fact is that lots of folks have disengaged because they have not felt welcomed, pursued, invited or valued in a church or synagogue. Our efforts this coming Advent will attempt to provide a counter response to some of those experiences.

The unsolicited reaction of two of my fellow New York City bound Atlanta Catholics gave me reason to believe that our efforts will be supported and fill a gap in our evangelization efforts that resonate with lots of our people. All of us know of a relative, a friend, a fellow worker, a neighbor or childhood acquaintance who might return to the practice of our Faith if they were invited sincerely and with a warmth that is truly convincing.
read entire article

Please Keep the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Diocese of Savannah and all of our CCH Diocesan Partners in Your Prayers as they Prepare for these Important Evangelization Initiatives!
Learn more about bringing CatholicsComeHome.org TV commercials to your diocese

Feast of All Souls

“If we had no care for the dead, we would not be in the habit of praying for them.” -St. Augustine

Today is the Solemnity of All Souls, during which we remember to pray for the faithful departed, for all the holy souls in Purgatory. Do you know the origin of  this feast day (and the origin of the Solemnity of All Saints)? Read this article by Fr. William Saunders to understand more clearly these holy days we celebrate this week.

“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.” -St. John Chrysostom