Catholic parishes are urged to be ready for an uptick in interest from inactive Catholics beginning Dec. 16 and continuing through Jan. 8.
During that time, TV networks across the U.S. will air commercials produced by Catholics Come Home, an organization based in Atlanta that is committed to evangelization.
Tom Peterson, the organization’s founder, said the campaign’s “inspiring messages” are an invitation to Catholic neighbors, relatives, and co-workers to come “to the largest family reunion in modern history.”
The organization hopes to inspire as many as 1 million Catholics to return to local parishes, according to information posted on its website http://www.catholicscomehome.org.
The ads — airing in prime time on broadcast and cable channels — focus on the richness and history of the Catholic Church and highlight Catholic traditions of prayer, education and help for the poor.
“If you’ve been away, come home to your parish, and visit Catholicscomehome.org today” is part of the ads message, scheduled to air more than 400 times starting before Christmas and going through the feast of the Epiphany.
Since the first ad campaign during Lent 2008, Catholics Come Home reported that its television initiative and website are directly responsible for increasing Mass attendance by 10 percent in the markets where the ads were shown and that 300,000 people came back to the church.
A recent study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University said that only 33 percent of U.S. Catholics attend weekly Mass.
Other statistics cited included how many hours per week the average American is “consuming media” particularly via TV and the Internet (38 hours); and how many Americans now describe themselves as nonreligious/secular (13. 2 percent of the total population, up 110 percent from 1990 to 2000).
Reaching 250 million
This year’s prime time advertising campaign aims to reach 250 million television viewers in more than 10,000 U.S. cities and in every U.S. diocese during popular shows such as “60 Minutes,” “NCIS,” “The Today Show” and other major network productions. The campaign will also provide an informal kick off to a local evangelization effort that will be developed and implemented in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the coming months and years.