Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Catholics Come Home"

A parishioner sent me an article (from catholicnewsagency.com) regarding a new program that the Diocese of Phoenix has used which is called, “Catholics Come Home”. The initial outreach of the program has bore much fruit, thanks be to God. Excerpts of the article are below. Also, please click on today’s title for the website for this program; it contains the videos (at the bottom of the front page of the site) mentioned in the article.

Phoenix, Apr 7, 2008 / 10:28 am (CNA).- In less than three weeks, 3,000 Catholics returned to the Church in the Diocese of Phoenix due to the effort of a new lay apostolate, CatholicsComeHome.org. The program consists of a website and commercials aired on local television that effectively portray the truth and goodness of the Catholic Church.

In an interview with CNA, Catholics Come Home, Inc. founder and president, Tom Peterson explained that the ads are designed to take people to the website, CatholicsComeHome.org, where they can find answers to questions about Church teachings, and also to put them into contact with their local parish to be led home, back to the Catholic Church.

Prior to founding Catholics Come Home, Peterson worked in advertising until he attended a retreat that completely changed his life. It was then that he knew God was calling him to use his advertising talents for evangelization.

Years later, he was contacted by the Diocese of Phoenix to help start a three-week campaign which was launched last month. In Phoenix, the commercials were aired on all major television networks and also ESPN, Lifetime, FOX News and others.

After the first commercial campaign, not only did the diocese report a marked increase in Mass attendance, but over “31,000 unique visitors came to the website from Phoenix and other US cities plus 60 foreign countries, with questions, to look up Mass times, to read information on marriage issues, to watch testimonies or to order Matthew Kelly’s book, ‘Rediscovering Catholicism.’”

The commercials aired on television are produced by CatholicsComeHome.org. Before airing the ads, two of the clips, “Epic”, and “Movie,” were shown to a focus group that consisted of former and practicing Catholics, non Catholic Christians, as well as those without any faith.

The feedback received from the group was outstanding. Seventy-eight of the 100 participants had positive responses to the ads. In another assessment, the organization found that before watching the videos, 90% of the participants had negative impressions of the Catholic Church. After viewing ads one time, 54% had a much more favorable impression. Hearts and minds were changed after viewing these creative and inspired ads.

The first commercial, “Epic” portrays the history, beauty, and spirituality of the Church that Jesus started 2,000 years ago. Peterson mentioned that “many people don’t realize the history of the Church. They don’t realize that Peter – the Apostle from the Bible – was the first Pope. They don’t realize the vast accomplishments that the Church has made over the centuries.”

“Epic” also effectively represents the universality of the Church. The clip shows a Mexican fiesta, an African Mass, a Tongan baptism, aid workers serving in a Vietnamese jungle, among other scenes.

The reaction to the video has been overwhelmingly positive. Viewers commented, “After seeing ‘Epic’, it made me proud to be Catholic.” Priests have noted that the video made them feel “re-invigorated about their vocation.” The video also has touched former Catholics who have said that the video showed the truth about the Church – “truth that they haven’t seen in decades.”

…While CatholicsComeHome.org is still searching for further funding and quality advisors, the organization is hoping to take the information learned in the focus groups and initial airings, and bring the commercials to other dioceses next year.


At 11:25 AM, Blogger fran said...

I have been browsing the Catholics Come Home website, over the past couple of days, and have found it, and its numerous links, to be a treasure trove of information and resources for Catholics, drifting Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Particularly informative and enjoyable, are the articles and "Q&A" forums found
on the link to "Envoy" magazine, a Catholic magazine with a focus on evangelization and apologetics. Really great!

At 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the topic of marketing, if this thought is permitted….

I tend to be one of those people that associates a concept with color(s), design, layout, etc., i.e., my brain remembers a simple picture or logo with more ease than a busy and complicated picture. In educational terms, I am a visual learner. With this in mind, please do not think my following question is out of disrespect for the picture on the front of St. Andrew's weekly bulletin and the parish it represents; rather, it is a question that originates from total admiration for what St. Andrew Catholic Church and all Catholic churches represent, belief and pursuit of the eternal peace and love our risen Lord offers.

If my understanding is correct, the Catholic faith differs from other branches of Christianity (not including Eastern Orthodox religions) in that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus through transubstantiation. It provides strength for the trials endured during this life and provides hope for an eternal life of love and peace with God in the next life. I see the Eucharist as the reason we have a New Testament. With this being said, help me to understand why our weekly bulletin is decorated with a picture of the exterior of our church? Is it tradition? Is it because we, the members of the parish, gather within Her to worship our savior and then leave with the responsibility of living a life that pleases Him? But then without Him, are we a church? Or, perhaps there is no particular reason the bulletin has a picture of the outside of our church - it simply is the picture because that is what was put on the front of the bulletin when the parish started and no one ever asked why a picture of the outside of the church on the front of the bulletin?

The reason I ask this question is that I find the picture on our weekly bulletin rather bland, busy, common looking – lacking a significant message or focal point. The bottom line is this; if I picked up a wind blown copy of our bulletin, with its picture catching my eye, I would see a building with a cross on it, period. I would see a church. The significance of the Eucharist is hidden within the print identifying the church and its location.

I suppose one could ask, “So what? Who has the time to think about such things? Does it really matter?" And my thought is, "Hmmm…" perhaps I should rephrase that question; "Does the Eucharist really matter?"

So….my closing question is this; do Catholic parish bulletins ever use a picture that represents their church yet gives the Eucharist the center front spot it deserves? Is it appropriate to use the Eucharist as the focal point on a publication to remind all viewers of the unique beauty and hope it offers? Is the front of a church’s bulletin ever open to discussion of change?

At 2:29 PM, Blogger fran said...

While I don't have an answer to the question of "why" a photo of the church appears on the cover of the bulletin, I can tell you that the bulletins of ALL the churches I have frequented over the years, (and this includes those in other states) have a photo, or artists rendering of that particular church on the cover. Some have a picture of the church along with a picture of the saint from which the church takes its name. So, there must be something to it. Some of the thoughts you address may hold the answer... just not sure, though.

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was immediately struck by the by the ads of CATHOLICS COME HOME, and the need for reconcillation, and in every facet of our daily life. I pray that you may expand this ministry throughout the world.


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