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.

Saint André Bessette

Brother André Bessette, founder of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada, was proclaimed a SaiSaint Andre Bassettent at the Vatican this past Sunday, October 17.

Check out this video reflection about Saint André Bessette by Father Thomas Rosica.

“It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures.” -Saint André Bessette

Rome Reports TV News Agency: "Catholics Come Home: Commercials boost church attendance"

Read & Watch Rome Reports TV News Agency:  “Catholics Come Home: Commercials boost church attendance”, story below:

May 6, 2010. This commercial highlights the vital part the Catholic Church has played in establishing hospitals, churches, orphanages, and schools and its role in marriage, family life, Scripture and sacraments.

The same ad has also increased mass attendance by an average of 11 percent.

Aired in 12 archdioceses and dioceses around the United States, it addresses often misunderstood aspects of the Catholic faith.

Catholics Come Home, a non profit, broadcasts these messages for the purpose of reaching inactive Catholics, non-Catholics or even current Catholics so they can learn about the Church and live a deeper faith. The ads can also be seen at this website www.catholicscomehome.org.

Only 33 percent of U.S. Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis.

And while nearly one-in-three Americans were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four describe themselves as Catholic.

Catholics Come Home hopes to change these numbers.

Click to read entire article, and to view Rome Reports TV News Story

Visit CatholicsComeHome.org each day to grow in your faith!

Catholicism and Politics

Catholicism and Politics?

How should Catholics get involved in political life? The Vatican will be discussing this topic on Friday. Read more about the upcoming meeting: Vatican to Study Bringing Catholics Back to Politics.

Interested in learning more about the intersection between faith and politics? Check out the book Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, by Archbishop Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado. This may be just the book for you!

4th Day of Christmas Inspiration…From CatholicsComeHome.org

Pope Benedict’s homily at his Christmas Mass calls us to turn away from selfishness, and ‘open the eyes of our hearts, so that we may become vigilant and clear-sighted, in this way bringing you close to others as well!’ – very inspiring!

“…For you the Saviour is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the Angel announced to the shepherds. It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me. Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on, I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there. The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason. They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God’s incarnation have to tell us?

The first thing we are told about the shepherds is that they were on the watch – they could hear the message precisely because they were awake. We must be awake, so that we can hear the message. We must become truly vigilant people. What does this mean? The principal difference between someone dreaming and someone awake is that the dreamer is in a world of his own. His “self” is locked into this dreamworld that is his alone and does not connect him with others. To wake up means to leave that private world of one’s own and to enter the common reality, the truth that alone can unite all people. Conflict and lack of reconciliation in the world stem from the fact that we are locked into our own interests and opinions, into our own little private world. Selfishness, both individual and collective, makes us prisoners of our interests and our desires that stand against the truth and separate us from one another. Awake, the Gospel tells us. Step outside, so as to enter the great communal truth, the communion of the one God. To awake, then, means to develop a receptivity for God: for the silent promptings with which he chooses to guide us; for the many indications of his presence. There are people who describe themselves as “religiously tone deaf”. The gift of a capacity to perceive God seems as if it is withheld from some. And indeed – our way of thinking and acting, the mentality of today’s world, the whole range of our experience is inclined to deaden our receptivity for God, to make us “tone deaf” towards him. And yet in every soul, the desire for God, the capacity to encounter him, is present, whether in a hidden way or overtly. In order to arrive at this vigilance, this awakening to what is essential, we should pray for ourselves and for others, for those who appear “tone deaf” and yet in whom there is a keen desire for God to manifest himself. The great theologian Origen said this: if I had the grace to see as Paul saw, I could even now (during the Liturgy) contemplate a great host of angels (cf. in Lk 23:9). And indeed, in the sacred liturgy, we are surrounded by the angels of God and the saints. The Lord himself is present in our midst. Lord, open the eyes of our hearts, so that we may become vigilant and clear-sighted, in this way bringing you close to others as well!”

Visit www.CatholicsComeHome.org to grow in your faith each day.