The "St. Louis Review" Reports: Catholics Come Home® evangelization campaign brings people back to Church

The St. Louis Review July 25 issue highlights the positive impact of the recent Archdiocese of St. Louis Catholics Come Home® evangelization initiative.  Read the excerpt below, including two testimonials of returnees and converts to the faith:

Catholics Come Home® evangelization campaign brings people back to Church

July 25, 2012 | Barbara Watkins | bwatkins@archstl.org

The altar at St. Joseph Parish in Farmington.

Madge Winch came home this year.  Prompted by the Catholics Come Home® television commercials that aired throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis this winter, Winch returned to the Catholic Church through St. Joseph Parish in Farmington.

“I really came home, and I just love it,” said Winch, who had been born and raised Catholic but left the Church before she was confirmed. “I returned because I saw those ads. It was like the ads were talking to me.”

Winch is being joined by her husband, Allen Winch, a non-Catholic who is entering the Church. Winch said their three children were raised in the Church, but she herself stayed away from the sacraments for 33 years. When she took her children to church, “I always had to sit back in my seat and not receive communion. … Now every time I do receive communion, I come back to the pew and tears just flow, I feel so good.” She added, “It’s like a burden has been lifted off me.”

The Winches are going through the Rite of Christian Initiation at St. Joseph in Farmington, along with more than 30 other people joining or returning to the Church.

Father Rickey Valleroy, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, called Catholics Come Home® “a wonderful campaign.” He said, “It touched people’s hearts, and it spoke of the true Church to come home to. It’s been very successful for our parish.”

Catholics Come Home® was an archdiocesan-wide evangelization effort that involved more than 2,600 commercials, in English and Spanish, that aired between Dec. 16 and Jan. 22. For the campaign, the Archdiocese of St. Louis partnered with Catholics Come Home Inc., a Georgia-based nonprofit lay Catholic organization that uses a mass media outreach to evangelize fallen-away Catholics and others with an interest in learning more about the Catholic faith.

Funding for Catholics Come Home® St. Louis came from several sources, including a second collection in parishes one weekend in October.

“For us it worked wonderfully,” said Father Valleroy.

Also returning to the Church through St. Joseph in Farmington is Shirley Hill, who was raised a Catholic in St. Joseph Parish and attended elementary and high school there. She and her husband, Tom Hill, were married in the Church, but “as time went by, we got kind of lax (about going to Mass) and it became easier and easier” to stay away.

Shirley Hill saw the Catholics Come Home® ads and “they caught my eye. I thought they were informative and encouraging to bring me back.” Although a little hesitant at first to return to the Church, “I didn’t need to worry. It’s been great.”

Tom Hill is joining the Church and is in the parish RCIA program. Shirley Hill added that recent attacks on the Church “politically and otherwise” also prompted their decision. “If we want to fix our country, we have to fix ourselves first. If we’re not participating and talking to God through Mass and the sacraments, we are lax in our beliefs.”

Father Valleroy said he had a dozen people contact him as a result of the Catholics Come Home® commercials. “The parish hosted a dinner for them (and their spouses) … and I matched each person who came to the dinner with a very active parishioner who helped get involved in the life of the parish. … I think 100 percent of the people we invited from Catholics Come Home® worked at our parish picnic this June because they already felt a part of the parish.”

Father Jack Siefert of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Brentwood also reported positive results from Catholic Come Home®. “We have seen an increase in Mass attendance at church. That’s not just me saying that. Parishioners have told me they’ve seen a pretty good increase in Mass attendance. And there has been a significant increase in loose collections, that is up considerably.

“I know that Catholics Come Home® is not about money, but that increase is an indicator,” Father Siefert said. “We have seen an increase in Mass attendance and in stewardship numbers.”

Click here to read the entire St. Louis Review article

Visit the Catholics Come Home® “where we’ve been” page to see a sampling of the 33+ CCH diocesan partners to date, and highlights from their campaigns.

"Catholics Come Home" Commercials Spur Green Bay Man to Enter the Church This Easter!

The Compass Newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin reports the story of  a young man’s journey into the Catholic Church this Easter that began when he saw a Catholics Come Home® Commercial:

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‘Catholics Come Home®’ commercials spur Cooney’s interest in Catholicism
Written by Jeff Kurowski | The Compass

HOWARD — The Easter Vigil will mark the culmination of one path of discovery and the beginning of another for Casey Cooney. The Bay Port High School senior will make a full profession of faith and receive confirmation and first Eucharist on April 23 at St. John the Baptist Church. He was baptized last year. Karla Thielmann, his aunt, is serving as his sponsor.

Last summer, Cooney, 18, decided it was time to take his faith seriously. He had grown up in a household without religion, but, at his request, attended Mass at times as a child. His mother took him to St. John the Baptist, which he describes as “my first experience with God.” Cooney, who also spent time as a teen at various Protestant and nondenominational churches, said he entered the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) after re-examining his faith life.

“I knew that I had to decide where I was in my communion with God,” he said. “I knew that I wanted to come back to the church, but I was initially dismayed because there are 3,000 different denominations of Christianity, some of which with mutually exclusive theology. They all say that they are the last remnant of Israel. Who do I believe?”

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Casey Cooney (Rick Evans | For The Compass)

Around this time of personal faith exploration, television commercials for Catholics Come Home® aired locally. Cooney said that he was inspired by the media spot that highlighted Jesus calling Peter “the rock” and saying, “Upon this rock I will build my church.”

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“After that, I started to investigate the church,” he said. “Everything just made sense to me and I knew that’s where I belong.”

Cooney has embraced learning opportunities throughout the RCIA process. He has researched the history of the church and read about theologians, including Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Much of the learning is not found in texts though, he said.

“It’s one thing to have that knowledge, but it’s much more important how you live your faith,” he said. “I always try to keep that in mind. The people on the RCIA team have been practicing their faith longer than I’ve been alive, so there are a lot of things they can teach me about what it means to live the Catholic life.

“I’m learning what it’s like to be part of a church community for the first time,” he added. “For me, it was always kind of a Sunday thing where you just kind of go and after church ends, you filter out.”

Cooney has developed an appreciation for the Catholic Mass. He recalls what he describes as “musical productions” at some of the nondenominational churches he attended.

“When I come to the Catholic Mass, the music is more restrained and I like it better,” he said. “The Mass is more solemn and quiet, and reverent, and respectful. In one of Paul’s Epistles he talked about propriety in worship in that God is the God of order and not chaos. I’m not saying that those other churches are chaotic, but I appreciate the order in the Catholic Church. I find it comforting.”

Read the entire article from The Compass

Please pray for all those coming into full communion with The Church this Easter, and for those who have received the Catholics Come Home® invitation who are considering returning to Mass.

Great CD/MP3 Recommendation

Check out Steve Ray’s “Finding the Fullness of the Faith” conversion story from Protestantism to the Catholic Faith.

His story is filled with tons of powerful and useful information for Catholics and non-Catholics alike…It’s one of our CCH team favorites!

You can get the CD or download the MP3 from Lighthouse Catholic Media.

Here’s what one listener had to say about Steve Ray’s talk: “I am a Protestant about to begin RCIA. This helped to clarify a number of questions and to affirm my decision to explore the Catholic Faith.” -Sharon – Chicago, IL

You can find even more great Catholic talks from Lighthouse Catholic Media’s store.