CATHOLICS COME HOME® FILLING PEWS FOR EASTER
(April 12, 2011) Atlanta, GA—The parish pews of New England Catholic churches are noticeably fuller these days. This Lent, the Archdiocese of Boston, the Diocese of Manchester and seven other dioceses across the nation have partnered with the lay organization Catholics Come Home®, to air the multimedia (TV and Internet) evangelization initiative inviting Catholics back to church – and it’s working!
Portraying the spirituality and history of the Catholic Church, the television messages reach out to inactive Catholics and others; encouraging their return to the Church. The commercials direct the viewer to the www.CatholicsComeHome.org and www.CatolicosRegresen.org websites to explore answers to questions of faith and to utilize the site’s parish-finder feature to locate their local parish community and Mass times. Television campaigns often feature ads in multiple languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish in the most popular programming like news, sports and Prime Time.
Catholics Come Home® commercials began airing on mainstream broadcast and cable television on Ash Wednesday in the Lenten partner archdioceses of Boston and New Orleans, and dioceses of Manchester, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Houma-Thibodaux, Erie, Winona and Venice, FL. The ads continue through Easter Sunday. “This Lent, we’ve made an outreach to inactive Catholics…launching several television commercials to invite our brothers and sisters home,” said Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley. “It’s for Catholics, who for whatever reason have stopped coming to church.”
Jackie Rolon, a Boston Catholic who recently returned to the faith after seeing a CatholicsComeHome.org TV commercial, beamed with delight in a video interview with the Boston Herald. “I have come back to the Church a month today. The joy I feel is beyond words,” said Rolon while hugging a photo of her deceased father and a rosary closely to herself. The Boston Herald‘s recent story “Religious Campaign Goes Beyond TV Ads,” brings light to the welcoming spirit of New England parishes. The Rev. Francisco Anzoategui, believes as many as 20 people have come back to St. Stephen’s. “You’ll be amazed how many people return because they are just waiting for an invitation to come back. It’s happening,” he said. At St. Patrick’s in Stoneham, the Rev. Bill Schmidt held a three-night Lenten mission last month for current and lapsed Catholics. About 60 people attended a Q&A night to learn about the faith. Another 50 came to a session on annulments. Parishioners are encouraged to bring friends and family. “We are putting a big push on people to invite somebody to go back,” he said. “It’s always easier to come back with someone.”
In the Diocese of Manchester, The Citizen of Laconia paper reports, “A Welcome Home: Catholic Church Opens Arms To Prodigal Faithful“. Area parishes such as St. André Bessette of Laconia, will have large, purple banners above their doors, welcoming people to come within. The Rev. Marc Drouin, pastor of St. Andre Bessette, said, “Even if one person returns home, it’s worth everything to prepare to receive them,” said Drouin. “Just this past week, I spoke with two people who were away for at least 30 years and both of them had seen the commercials on TV and decided to reconnect. It was a delight to meet them and to welcome them back.”
Previous Catholics Come Home® initiatives have already aired in more than 20 dioceses from Chicago to Phoenix, Sacramento to Providence and Atlanta to Corpus Christi. These ads will have reached 40 million viewers by Easter. Where these ads have aired, Mass attendance has increased an average of 10%, and as much as 18%. According to census statistics published by participating dioceses, Catholics Come Home® ads have helped more than 200,000 fallen away Catholics come home to the Church.
This Holy Thursday also marks the one year anniversary of the EncouragePriests.org™ website launch, a communications outreach project of Catholics Come Home®. The EncouragePriests.org website is designed for the laity to send messages of support to the holy and heroic priests of Christ’s Catholic Church. EncouragePriests.org includes free e-card Collar-Hollers, spiritual bouquets, and a place to post encouragement videos.
CatholicsComeHome.org is a 501(c)(3) non-profit media apostolate, dedicated to producing and airing Catholic evangelism television ads on local, national and international television networks. EncouragePriests.org™ is a special communications outreach project of Catholics Come Home, Inc.