Jan 21 - Archdiocese of Boston To Launch Outreach Effort*

Cardinal to speak directly to Parishioners

Special Collection to Raise Funds Needed to Support Catholics Come Home Initiative

Braintree, MA (January 21, 2011) – This weekend in every parish of the Archdiocese of Boston, Cardinal Seán O’Malley will address parishioners on the importance of faith outreach and introduce to them the upcoming Catholics Come Home initiative scheduled to launch on Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011.  

In a videotaped homily to be played during each of the Masses, the Cardinal will request “every Catholic to be a part of this plan” which seeks to invite Catholics back to the Church and warmly welcome them home. Cardinal Seán has named this weekend “Evangelization Sunday” for the Archdiocese, hoping that each Catholic will embrace fully Christ’s two instructions to us, his disciples:  to love one another and to share the beauty of our Catholic faith with the world, especially those near to us. 

A central element of the Archdiocese’s outreach campaign is the partnership with Catholics Come Home, a lay apostolate to invite Catholics who have drifted away from the Church to return to the practice of the faith.  Catholics Come Home has developed television and radio commercials that have proven effective in other parts of the United States at inviting Catholics to come home to the Catholic Church.  Proceeds from the second collection this weekend will fund the airing of these commercials during Lent.     

In asking Catholics to get involved, Cardinal Seán encouraged parishioners “to reach out to our inactive brothers and sisters and let them know we love them and want them to gather with us around Christ’s Altar, the table of the Eucharistic banquet.  We must let them know that we want them to be active members of Christ’s family, our brothers and sisters.  Every Catholic can be a minister of welcome, reconciliation and understanding to those who have stopped coming to Church.”  He added, “We are one billion Catholics in the world today.  We come in many sizes, shapes and colors, speaking every language imaginable.  We are here today because others passed on the faith to us.  Now it’s our turn.”

Janet Benestad, Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization, said, “Evangelization Sunday is a concerted effort of the entire Archdiocese of Boston to prepare ourselves to reach out to women and men who have become distant from the Church.  We are immensely grateful to our priests, deacons and parish staff who are making this effort possible and who are an inspiration to us in their continuing commitment to be evangelizers and missionaries for Christ.”

Scot Landry, Secretary for Catholic Media, stated, “The success of the Catholics Come Home initiative will be measured by how many people see and respond to the TV and radio commercials, return to a nearby parish and receive a warm and encouraging welcome there.  We are grateful to the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston who are praying for the success of this initiative, and who will invite their friends and family members to come to Mass with them, and then will ensure a warm welcome to all those return.” 

Evangelization Sunday -- January 23, 2011

This is the first time that the Archdiocese has held Evangelization Sunday.  There are many definitions of Evangelization; however in simple terms it is the living of Christ’s teaching to all disciples to share their faith with others.  Two elements of evangelization are invitation and welcome and this theme is the focus of this year’s Evangelization Sunday homily from Cardinal O’Malley. 

This outreach effort is one way that Cardinal O’Malley is attempting to address the statistic that only 17% of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston attend Mass each week.

“We are diminished and saddened by the absence at Mass of our Catholic brothers and sisters,” remarked Benestad.  “Just like at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners when we hope that our entire family is present, we also hope that our entire Catholic family will gather together each Sunday to grow in faith and then live that faith together by working to build a civilization of love.” 

At the heart of the Catholics Come Home initiative in the Archdiocese of Boston is a media campaign consisting of TV and radio commercials prepared especially to invite Catholics who are not practicing to take another look at the Catholic faith.  “Catholics Come Home campaigns have been launched in 15 other dioceses across the United States”, shared Landry.  “In each diocese, there was a growth in Mass attendance of ten percent or more.  We pray and hope for the same or better results here in the Archdiocese.  If anyone has been waiting for a sign to return to the Catholic Church, please consider this your invitation to begin a new relationship with Christ and the Church that will last forever.”

What, where, when?

Every parish in the archdiocese will show a videotaped homily or play an audio homily by Cardinal Seán O’Malley at every Mass on the weekend of January 22/23.  In the homily, Cardinal Seán invites every practicing Catholic to the work of outreach and evangelization.  Specifically he asks parishioners to:

  • Pray for those who are away from the Church
  • Invite them to join them at Mass and to share in the living of our Catholic  faith
  • Donate generously to the second collection which will support the purchase of TV and radio commercials inviting people back to the Church. The more successful the collection, the greater the number of commercials that will be shown and the greater the number of individuals who will be reached.

Every parishioner will receive an in-pew card urging him/her to participate in the work of inviting and welcoming. The commercials will air during Lent 2011, from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday.  There are five TV commercials: Epic Global, Epic Boston (customized with local scenes), Home, Movie, and Testimonial.  Some of the commercials have also been produced in Spanish and Portuguese.  All the commercials may be seen at www.CatholicsComeHomeBoston.org.

Follow-up to Evangelization Sunday

Everyone is encouraged to visit www.CatholicsComeHomeBoston.org which provides important information on the outreach initiative including a parish finder application, Catholics Come Home videos, answers to questions for Catholics who are considering a return and for those who have never been Catholic, parish resources, news, and links.  In addition, the Archdiocese will be offering workshops for parish leaders on invitation, outreach, extending hospitality and on particular questions Catholics in other dioceses have asked upon their return.   

For more information, please see the 3 articles in the January 23 edition of The Pilot. 

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 291 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  www.BostonCatholic.org.

About CatholicsComeHome.org: CatholicsComeHome.org is a 501(c)(3) non-profit media apostolate, dedicated to producing and airing Catholic evangelism television ads on local, national and international television networks.