TV ads aimed at bringing lapsed Catholics back into the fold have enjoyed enormous success recently with an estimated 200,000 returning to churches throughout the U.S. as a result of the campaign. Featuring high-resolution TV ads with lush colors and powerful imagery, Catholics Come Home® – an initiative of business entrepreneur Tom Peterson – has teamed up with local dioceses in the U.S. to bring people back into the Church.
Peterson told EWTN News Dec. 16 that Catholics Come Home® “has been blessed with amazing results” over the last two and a half years as over 200,000 individuals, whether lapsed Catholics or otherwise, have joined their local parishes.
“We’ve heard amazing stories of conversions from atheism,” as well as individuals from Protestant denominations coming into the Catholic Church, he said.
The vast majority, though, are “’reverts’ – people coming back to their faith,” Peterson noted.
He explained that the group concentrates their ad campaigns yearly during the seasons of Advent and Lent. The ads are divided into categories that focus on the “history, beauty, spirituality and accomplishments” of the Church, as well as individual testimonials. The commercials also refer viewers to the group’s website where they can ask questions and get in touch with their local dioceses. Though the ads are focused primarily in the U.S., but interest has been shown in Australia and Poland.
“Probably by the end of Lent (2011), we’ll have reached 40 million people – secular television viewers – with these messages,” Peterson said.
The Christmas initiative, which kicks off Dec. 17, is the perfect time of year to show the ads as a lot of families are home for the holiday and television viewing is high, he said.
“It’s a great psychological, spiritual and evangelical time to reach these souls,” Peterson added.
Diocesan partners, such as the Archdiocese of Chicago, have a thorough approach in their outreach using the initiative during Christmas time.
Nancy Polacek, coordinator of Catholics Come Home® Chicago, said the group is collaborating with the Joliet and Rockford dioceses to offer a number of resources to help people connect to parishes. Aside from the TV ads, they have a website set up where people can order prayer cards and brochures, learn about religious education or other programs.
“We try to send something out by e-mail to all the parishes every week, and then it’s all posted online if they want to get more of something,”Polacek told the Chicago archdiocesan paper, Catholic New World.
The TV ads will run from Dec. 17 through Jan. 17 on stations throughout the area. Poster ads aimed specifically at young adult commuters will follow the TV campaign.
The Catholic New World reported that the Chicago archdiocese decided to continue with Catholics Come Home® after parishes reported positive experiences from last year’s campaign, including more people attending Mass and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
As families begin to gather within the next week for the holidays, Peterson said that those who’ve left the Church should be reminded that God loves them, has a plan for them, and that “once a baptized Catholic, always a Catholic – whether practicing or not” applies to them.
“There is a big Catholic family that loves you and misses you,” Peterson said. “It’s a wonderful adventure – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain – and we say ‘welcome home.’”