Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

5/6/2008 (7 years ago)

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

Catholics Come Home is a comprehensive evangelism program for dioceses and archdioceses. It begins with airing commercials in the local area, leading interested people to contact a particular parish or diocese.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

5/6/2008 (7 years ago)

Published in U.S.


WASHINGTON, DC (Inside Catholic) - One out of every ten Americans is a lapsed Catholic, according to the Pew Forum's recently released "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey." Though the Pew statistics could be disputed, the survey confirmed what any observer of the Church knows: Many cradle Catholics leave the Church never to return.

In response to the Pew survey, Inside Catholic sponsored a symposium with over 30 Catholic leaders discussing the question, Why Are They Leaving?, One reason is obvious -- a lack of concern for evangelism, reaching out to those who have either stopped attending church or never did in the first place.

Those of us who converted to Catholicism from an Evangelical background are always struck by what seems an almost total lack of interest among cradle Catholics in sharing their faith.

There are notable exceptions, most of whom are connected to EWTN in one way or another: Scott Hahn, Jeff Cavins, Pat Madrid, Marcus Grodi, Rev. Michael Scanlon, and Matthew Kelly, to name a few examples.

The contribution of Mother Angelica to restoring our Church has only begun to be recognized, as is evidenced by Raymond Arroyo's masterful biography. In addition, Rev. Joseph Fessio, S.J., and Tom Monaghan will one day, along with Mother Angelica, be seen as the prophetic trailblazers they were.

But I think they would all agree that their efforts amount to plugging the leaks with their fingers, so immense is the problem of Catholics leaving the Church.

However, an exciting new apostolate may help change that. A short time ago, Tom Peterson launched CatholicsComeHome.org, and it promises to lead the effort in restoring evangelism in the Church. Peterson is a man who understands the power of media, with 25 years of experience in advertising. In 1998 while living in Phoenix, he created VirtueMedia, which has aired pro-life radio and television commercials on over a thousand stations nationwide.

His experience with VirtueMedia led him to create a unique organization -- Catholics Come Home -- and a Web site to connect with those interested in exploring the Catholic Faith. The site starts with an interactive host who takes the viewer on a tour that includes powerful collections of videos called "Real People, Real Stories."

Peterson told me his site had over 100,000 unique visitors last month, in part due to the fact that he was savvy enough to advertise at the papal Mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C.

He has already aired commercials announcing the site in Phoenix and Lexington, Kentucky, but thinks most of the traffic is a result of the wide dispersion of person-to-person e-mails.

Now located north of Atlanta, Peterson got the idea for both of his apostolates after experiencing a "reversion" on a men's retreat twelve years ago. "Afterward, I had two dreams. In one I was saving babies, and in the other I was making a Catholic film."

The first dream led to the creation of VirtueMedia, the other to a film for the Phoenix diocese issuing an invitation to a Catholics Coming Home rally that brought 3,000 attendees.

But the bishop in Phoenix didn't want to continue the effort, so Petersen had to put his plans on hold until five years ago, when he started developing the materials for the Web site.

What Peterson has created goes far beyond the average Web site. Catholics Come Home is a comprehensive evangelism program for dioceses and archdioceses. It begins with airing commercials in the local area, leading interested people to contact a particular parish or diocese.

He is already receiving invitations to various dioceses who want to use his program. "Within a year I plan to go national, airing commercials on the major U.S. networks and in major markets like the Super Bowl. This is something no Catholic organization has done to this level."

Before airing his commercials, Peterson asks bishops and archbishops to train workers "to be welcoming" toward those who contact them. "The key is to have a loving person on the other end of the phone when they call. You only get one chance in a situation like this, so we have to get it right."

The dioceses will need a "collaborative spirit" to implement the program locally in order to work with those who want to return to the Church or become a Catholic. In the Diocese of Phoenix, for example, receptionists have been trained to take calls in response to Peterson's commercials.

"Parishes and dioceses have to have the right spirit" or the program won't work, he explained to me. Peterson tells the story of a woman who had been away from the Church for 30 years who called the local parish only to be told, "Everyone's in a meeting now, can you call back tomorrow?"

"Catholics have gotten out of the habit of evangelizing," Peterson says. "Three out of four Catholics have never tried to win a person to Christ." This number strikes me as optimistic, but if Peterson's effort is successful -- and I have every reason to think it will be -- Catholics around the country will be finding themselves talking about their faith to others, perhaps for the very first time.

Catholics Come Home looks to be the most promising new apostolic effort since Mother Angelica started EWTN or Father Fessio created the St. Ignatius Press -- and hopefully the fruits of Peterson's efforts will find their way to your diocese.


Deal W. Hudson is the director of InsideCatholic.com and the author of Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon and Schuster, March 2008

---

The mission of InsideCatholic.com is to be a voice for authentic Catholicism in the public square.We believe that truth is both attractive and compelling and that in the marketplace of ideas, it will invariably win out.



Comments


More U.S.

No Phony Truces in the Battle to Block Most Anti-Life, Liberal Court in a Generation

Image of The United States Supreme Court

By J. Kenneth Blackwell

While much of our attention is on the Presidential race, the looming battle over a Supreme Court nomination merits no less attention.  The battle lines are clear in this nomination and the future of the Court and our Constitutional principles are at ... continue reading


Fr Frank Pavone - Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis' Encouraging Roadmap for Families Watch

Image of Fr Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

By Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

Amoris Laetitia is a timely and loving exhortation for families towards genuine charity that begins within the nuclear family. It can be described as a new road-map for a culture that has taken a sad and tragic detour. The Joy of Love recognizes women's ... continue reading


Catherine of Siena: We Need Saints for this Missionary Age Watch

Image of Today, in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, we commemorate one of the greatest women saints of Christian history, Catherine of Siena.  While praying at Peter's tomb, she experienced the great weight of the Church fall on her shoulders.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Father, raise up women like Catherine of Siena for this new missionary age of your Church. Women who are so in love with you, and so conformed to the Image of your Son, they can do for your Church in this hour, what she did in her own. Saints are a gift for the ... continue reading


Christian student shockingly dropped from master's program for practicing religious rights Watch

Image of Andrew Cash was discriminated against for practicing his religious rights (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Andrew Cash practiced his religious rights at Missouri State University - and was dismissed from the master's program in counseling as a result. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Catholic News Agency, Cash was referring same-sex couples to another ... continue reading


Not a newsflash, U.S. government authorized use of propaganda on American people...in 2013. Here's who to blame Watch

Image of Obama signed the amendment into law in 2013.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Does the news seem a little too pro-American to you? Does it seem reporters pull punches and that the real issues are ignored? Perhaps that's the result of a quiet change to the law that took place in 2013. A law banning the use of government propaganda on the American ... continue reading


The cost of incarceration: What can we do? Watch

Image of What can we do about overpopulated prisons and ex-cons' ability to find work (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)?

By Matt Hadro (CNA)

Experts from across the political spectrum are calling for criminal justice reform, as a new White House report shows the human and economic costs of the current justice system. Washington D.C. (CNA) - "This is a singular moment in one of the most challenging issues ... continue reading


Sickening portrayal of Jesus pinned to a dartboard presented as art in university library Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

An appalling portrayal of Jesus plastered to a dartboard was posted up as artwork inside the Art Library at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The "art piece," titled "Vitruvian Man," shows Jesus nailed to the dartboard ... continue reading


Which bathroom should you use? And why is this a question? Watch

Image of Figuring out which restroom to use isn't supposed to be a dilemma.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The American people are seemingly obsessed with public restrooms these days and precisely how people use the potty. The fear is being stoked by concerns that individuals who "self-identify" as the opposite sex, will take advantage of liberal policies and assault ... continue reading


Prayer Is the Path to Real Freedom Watch

Image of Prayer is the lifeline of a Christian

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Jesus said to his disciples: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. CHESAPEAKE, VA. ... continue reading


Why is Obama now sending 250 MORE troops to Syria? Watch

Image of U.S. President Barack Obama will be sending more troops to the Middle East.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

U.S. President Barack Obama announced 250 more special operations forces are to be deployed to Syria within the next few weeks. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) -  Obama stated: "Just as I approved additional support for Iraqi forces against ISIL, I've decided to ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 16:1-10
1 From there he went to Derbe, and then on to Lystra, where there was a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:1-2, 3, 5
1 [Psalm For thanksgiving] Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,2 ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:18-21
18 If the world hates you, you must realise that it hated me before it ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 30th, 2016 Image

St. Pius V, Pope
April 30: Pope from 1566-1572 and one of the foremost ... Read More