Television airtime is going to be a little bit more sparse for politicians this fall. An article on the National Catholic Register’s website has announced that Catholics Come Home has successfully acquired over 400 prime time commercial spots over three weeks starting December 16 on several national networks. (Just in time for Christmas!) NCR reports this campaign will reach 250+ million people in over 10,000 U.S. cities, covering every diocese.
However, this is just a first step in a long process that all of us must contribute to. The first place to start is Prayer. We, the lay faithful must not waiver in our prayers for the (re)conversion of others. As large as this advertising campaign is, our prayers will be a vital step in the success of the program.
Another key component will be personal invitations. While a commercial may put the church on someone’s radar, sometimes it takes that personal touch to really drive them home. It can be as easy as letting them know what the mass times are at your nearby parish, or offering to meet them there so they at least know someone, or going out for brunch afterwards. We must provide genuine encouragement and be prepared to answer questions. Fostering someones faith is a community effort and we should embrace it!
Additionally, if you feel called to support Catholics Come Home in their efforts, check out their website for the campaign, CatholicsComeHome.com. While the NCR article didn’t provide a cost for this kind of advertising effort, common sense tells us that it is not cheap.
The good news, is that campaigns such as these work! In our neighbor diocese of Corpus Christi, TX Catholics Come Home reported a 17.7% increase in mass attendance after their local advertising campaign during Lent 2009.
In years past the Methodist Church, and even this past month the LDS church, have had similar campaigns. I think Catholics Come Home’s commercial “Epic” will prove to be better because not only does it emphasize our good works, but the ultimate truth that Jesus established Peter as the cornerstone, the first pope, and guided by the Holy Spirit we have continued. This basic catechesis differentiates the Catholic Church from any other advertising efforts. With the grace of God, it will ring true to those who hear it.
I’m excited to see what good will come out of this December’s national campaign. Catholics Come Home hopes it will bring as many as 1 million people back to the Church. But its true success will be dependent on all of us who support and welcome God’s people home. Let’s get to work.