The Times-Georgian Reports, "Church attendance grows through Catholics 'Come Home' ad campaign"

The Archdiocese of Atlanta partnered with Catholics Come Home® this past Advent 2010.  The Archdiocese has been conducting post-initiative Mass attendance census counts, and gathering anecdotal data and “coming home” stories.  The Times-Georgian reports, below:


timesgeorgianlogo

Church attendance grows through Catholics ‘Come Home’ ad campaign

by Amanda Thomas/Times-Georgian Times Georgian
03.26.11
Most Reverend Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta, reads from the Bible during a celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation Saturday morning at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Carroll County. (Photo by Christopher Shannon/Times-Georgian.)

The pews in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church have been filled with more parishioners lately, due in part to a TV ad program launched in Georgia inviting Catholics who have left the church to “come home.”

Since the Catholics Come Home® Georgia campaign kicked off on Dec. 17, attendance at the church in Carroll County has increased 10 percent.

“We have over 1,200 people attending church every Sunday,” said the Rev. Rafael Carballo. “We had a good response. We also have people from other denominations that have come.”

Carballo believes the campaign served as a good reminder to people that the church is here.

“There’s nothing sweeter for people than to hear a voice come back home,” he said.

He also attributes the increase in attendance to the growth of the youth ministry. He said that when young people come to church they often bring their parents.

“I have seen a big growth in the youth ministry,” Carballo said. “At times, you think it’s mostly the adults bringing youth. The youth group has grown about 25 percent from last year into this year. It’s a more diverse group. We got people from all races so that’s creating a more positive environment for them.”

Although the ad program is over, efforts to bring Catholics home are continuing within the parishes, according to Deacon Steve Swope, who is chairman of the Catholics Come Home® Georgia steering committee. He said church leaders and lay people who do that each day that make a difference.

“The ads are over but the real work of welcoming people back is the work that is going on in the parish level now,” Swope said. “The advertisements invited those back, but the welcome they got when they came home is what made a difference.”

So far, the efforts of the church has been successful. The committee is measuring the initiative’s success in two different ways – quantitative and anecdotal. The group did a count of the number of people who attended Mass in October and another count in March just before Ash Wednesday.

It was determined that attendance rose 14 percent throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Another count will be conducted in October to make sure the increase is not a seasonal change. The committee also asked church leaders to send stories of people who have come back.

The group learned that some parishes held listening sessions to gives those who have returned a chance to meet others and ask any questions they have about coming back. Some parishes have reported four to five families coming back.

“In my own parish, I see people every week that I haven’t seen before,” Swope said. “Even if only one person came back, it would make it all worthwhile.”

The committee learned that the majority of people coming back did not leave because they were upset with the church, but because they “got lazy in their spiritual life,” he said.

Some may have left for college, stopped going to Mass and returned only when they were home with their families. They then continued to grow into adulthood, got married and did not feel the tug to go back until they had a couple of kids.

“It’s people feeling something’s missing and they come back,” Swope said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
read entire Times-Georgian article

Deacon Mike in Atlanta Presents a CatholicsComeHome.org Homily

As the Archdiocese of Atlanta prepares to bring CatholicsComeHome.org Commercials to TV screens locally this December, Atlanta’s Deacon Mike Presented a Homily at Mass Encouraging parishioners in the pews to reach out to their loved-ones away from the faith.  His homily is posted on the IntegratedCatholicLife.org E-News Magazine Site:

Posted October 2, 2010

Inviting Catholics to Come Home

I sometimes wonder why I don’t have more faith. I bet you sometimes wonder the same thing about yourself. If only my faith was stronger, I think, what amazing things I could do for the Lord. Right!

CCH Home - man in church pews by himselfIt seems the apostles were sharing the same thought in Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 17:5-10). And in a sense, that was good.  After all, they realized that they had a long way to go to become good and faithful servants, even after spending more than a year following and supporting the Lord’s public ministry. They approached Jesus and asked that He increase their faith.

But reflect on how Jesus replied to them. Imagine Him smiling as he said that the faith they had was a gift from Him and that if they but embraced and accepted that gift, they would do mighty works for the Kingdom. All of us Catholics have received the same gift of faith from Jesus. Do we realize what a treasure it is? If we did, there would be no power that could prevent us from sharing it with everyone we encounter in this life, both family and stranger.

CCH Epic - Priest Greeting FamilySt. Paul, writing to St. Timothy, a Catholic bishop he had appointed and consecrated, reminded him of this responsibility that comes with faith. Each of us shares in this gift and responsibility by virtue of our baptism. He told Timothy, and he tells us, do not ever be ashamed of the gospel you believe in and testify to. (2 Timothy 1:6-14)

Let me ask a question… What is the largest religious body in the United States?  It is the Catholic Church. More than 72 million people identify themselves as Catholics. Some estimates based on polling data indicate that only about 35 million of those Catholics attend Mass on a “somewhat” regular basis. And that number falls to about 25 million who attend Mass weekly or more frequently. The next largest group of self-identified non-Catholic Christians in the United States is the Southern Baptist Convention who number about 17 million according to the latest statistics available (I have seen some estimates that have that number above 20 million). The next largest group is fewer than those with no religion at all… about 13 million who indicate they follow no religion. Any way you slice it, the second largest religious group in America is that of non-practicing Catholics who either do not practice any faith or who have joined other, non-Catholic religious groups… maybe 37 million or higher.

Is there someone in your family who has stopped practicing their Catholic faith? Do you know friends and family members that are practicing another faith or maybe no faith at all? What can we do to share the love and grace of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church with them?

CCH-Black Vatican Logo (Registered Trademark)The Atlanta Archdiocese is launching an evangelistic outreach to invite Catholics to come home will entail a campaign to saturate the airwaves of both network and cable TV with the powerful ads that have demonstrated their effectiveness. The Catholic Church in Georgia is not the first Catholic Church to use these messages. This campaign is powerful and it works.  For example, the Catholics Come Home campaign was run by the diocese of Phoenix, a diocese of 700,000 members, which is similar in size to the Archdiocese of Atlanta.  Eighteen months after running these ads, more than 92,000 Catholics had returned to Mass and the practice of their faith.

These ads will begin running here in December of this year during Advent as we prepare for the coming of the Christ-child. Imagine the positive, spiritual impact on our local Church were more than 100,000 local Catholics to return to the active practice of their faith. Imagine the return of your own family members.

Take a look at CatholicsComeHome.org, the organization that produces these media messages. You can learn how to invite your friends, neighbors and family members back to the Catholic Church. I encourage you view their ads and support their work. And if your diocese has not yet begun such an effort, introduce your bishop to them.

Thank you Deacon Mike!  We hope that many souls away from the faith in Atlanta, state-wide in Georgia, and across the United States find their way “home” to Christ’s Catholic Church this December, and always!

Archdiocese of Atlanta Ready to "Welcome Home" Catholics!…

The Archdiocese of Atlanta’s official newspaper, The Georgia Bulletin, announces that CatholicsComeHome.org TV commercials are kicking-off in Atlanta, and all of Georgia, this December:

GA Bulletin


Catholics Come Home Campaign Kicks Off

MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer

Published: September 30, 2010

ATLANTA—“An extraordinary undertaking” is how Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory describes Catholics Come Home Georgia, a program of evangelization to welcome people to the Catholic Church. The program will kick off in December with a statewide media campaign and a plethora of parishioners ready to welcome home inactive Catholics and non-Catholics to their church communities.

Archbishop Gregory said, “During Advent … the Church in the Archdiocese of Atlanta is undertaking a dramatic initiative to invite and welcome back our brothers and sisters who have been away from the church.”

This collaborative effort between the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Diocese of Savannah, and nonprofit CatholicsComeHome.org incorporates compelling, professionally produced television commercials about the Catholic faith, airing on major television networks in the state, combined with parish programs preparing people to welcome those returning to or seeking information from the Catholic Church. A website, www.catholicscomehomegeorgia.org, has been created in support of parish efforts.

The commercials, created by the CatholicsComeHome.org, were developed with a particular emphasis on encouraging people to come back to the Catholic Church or to learning about the church for the first time. The ads are set to air from mid-December through late January, with the goal of reaching millions of viewers during that time.
read entire article

Please Keep Atlanta, 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