Braintree, MA (March 9, 2011) – The Archdiocese of Boston officially launched the Catholics Come Home Campaign today on the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday. Catholics Come Home is an initiative that invites those who have been away from the practice of their Catholic faith to take another look and to connect again with the Church. The initiative consists of the airing of television commercials in conjunction with a parish outreach & welcome program. Today’s events include the celebration of Mass by Cardinal Seán O’Malley, an afternoon press conference and a joint radio appearance that included the Cardinal, Tom Peterson, President of Catholics Come Home, Inc., and Janet Benestad, Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization for the Archdiocese. In addition, Rev. Paul Soper, pastor of St. Albert the Great Parish in Weymouth participated in the launch at the Pastoral Center.
Echoing his Homily on Evangelization Sunday, Cardinal Seán said “We are one billion Catholics in the world today. We come in all sizes, shapes and colors, speaking every language imaginable. We are Catholics today because others passed on the faith to us. Now it’s our turn. In our Archdiocese of Boston, the majority of our brothers and sisters do not come to Church except on rare occasions and celebrations. And some don’t come at all. All of us have family, friends and acquaintances who no longer practice their faith. I ask all Catholics to do something about that and become part of this outreach to our inactive brothers and sisters.”
The Cardinal added, “Let them know we love them and want them to gather with us around Christ’s Altar, the table of the Eucharistic banquet. We want them to know that being a follower of Christ in the Catholic Church is a beautiful life and can make us all better people, working together for a better world, a more just society, a planet more in conformity with the plan of our Creator, where the poor and weak are cared for, where people are more important than money, where community and the common good trump the individualism and consumerism of our age. Through Catholics Come Home we hope to open the doors of our faith to those willing to follow Christ.”
Mrs. Benestad said, “We are excited and grateful to begin this initiative and we thank our pastors and parishes for all their hard work on behalf of evangelization in their parish. Our hope and prayer is that through this initiative we will spark a renewal of faith among active Catholics as well as those who are away from the faith. The TV ads provide an opportunity to reach those of our Catholic family with an invite to come “home.” We seek to reinforce the TV messages with the personal outreach of active parishioners and the welcome provided by parishes.”
Mr. Peterson said, “This is a new springtime for our Catholic faith. How wonderful that we can gather as the body of Christ for the largest family reunion in Church history.”
The television advertising campaign for Catholics Come Home began this past Monday, March 7th, and continue through Easter Sunday, April 24th, 2011. Commercial airtime will include both prime time and around the clock programming. The length of commercials ranges from 30-120 seconds. The ads will number 2,500 during Lent and reach 92% of the viewing audience on stations that carry them. Radio ads in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Haitian-Creole will be heard throughout the campaign. These commercials can also be seen at: www.catholicscomehomeboston.org/videos/. Using commercials, the Church can speak to people whom we might not otherwise be able to reach. In the more than a dozen dioceses that have aired the CatholicsComeHome.org commercials to-date, there has been an average of a 12% increase in Mass attendance.
In addition a Parish Evangelization Guide for Catholics Come Home is now available online. To view and download a PDF version, visit: www.catholicscomehomeboston.org/pdfs/CCHBParishEvangelizationGuide.pdf. A hard copy has been mailed to pastors next week.
Fr. Soper said, “The Catholics Come Home initiative has energized many of the Parishes throughout the Archdiocese. If people are moved by the commercials or other forms of outreach, their local Parish is the natural place for them to turn. In our Parish, we have a major kickoff event on Ash Wednesday itself. Some fifty or so parishioners have organized themselves into welcoming teams, to greet people all day, from midnight to midnight. We are inviting people to come anytime during those 24 hours, to receive ashes, to pray, to talk with our parishioner teams. Confession will also be available almost all day. The teams will continue to work through the whole season of Lent to welcome people home.”
Also, WQOM and the Archdiocesan Catholic Media Secretariat launched a new program on Ash Wednesday, March, 9th to coincide with the beginning of the Catholics Come Home Campaign. “The Good Catholic Life” program is hosted by Scot Landry, who will be joined by a daily co-host. It will discuss Catholic initiatives and events, Catholic teaching explained by local priests, profiles of Catholic leaders and much more. The program will air from 4:00 to 5:00 P.M., Monday through Friday, from the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. The Ash Wednesday kick-off show featured a discussion of the Catholics Come Home initiative and with Cardinal Seán, Tom Peterson and Janet Benestad as guests. For more information, tune into WQOM at 1060am or visit online TheGoodCatholicLife.com.
“The Catholics Come Home campaign is the largest outreach initiative that the Archdiocese of Boston has launched in over a generation.” Said Mr. Landry. “We believe ‘The Good Catholic Life’ program can supplement the Catholics Come Home messages and provide ongoing daily faith formation and information. We have great co-hosts and guests lined up and it will be a lot of fun. Everyone seeks the ‘good life’ and as people of faith we know that ‘the good life’ and the ‘good Catholic life’ are synonymous. God created us to for deep and everlasting happiness and joy. This new program will allow our guests to share the peace and joy that has comes from fully living their Catholic faith.”
The Catholics Come Home Campaign is being funded largely by contributions received through a second collection held on January 23, 2011. To date, nearly $600,000 has been raised which provides ample resources to schedule a strong media campaign through Lent. “We are so grateful to parishioners throughout the Archdiocese for their generosity and support for this important initiative.” said Ms. Benestad.
Catholics Come Home is a lay apostolate founded by Catholics who returned to their faith and want to share it with others. 30 dioceses will have partnered on Catholics Come Home by end of Lent with an increase in Mass attendance as high as eighteen percent and an average of ten percent. Two hundred thousand people have come home in the first dozen dioceses.
About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of nearly 2 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 290 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 42,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach and in support of a health care ministry that meets the needs of some 1 million patients each year. Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit