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.

FBI arrests Cliven Bundy leading to protesters' surrender in Oregon occupation Watch

Image of Cliven Bundy was arrested by the FBI moments after stepping off a plane (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy stepped off a plane at the Portland International Airport Wednesday evening and was taken to Multnomah County jail, where his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy were already being held. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On Thursday morning the ... continue reading


Beauty and the Priest - Cleric indicted for murder in cold case from 1960 Watch

Image of Irene Garza was 25 at the time of her death. No motive has been established in the death of the beauty queen from McAllen, Texas, but John Feit is the only suspect.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A former priest has been indicted for a 1960 cold case murder of a woman. According to Texas authorities, then 27-year-old priest, John Feit, heard the confession of Irene Garza, then asphyxiated her afterwards. Her body was found in a canal days later. Feit will now ... continue reading


Former Catholic priest arrested in connection with beauty queen's murder - 56 years later Watch

Image of Now a married grandfather, former Catholic priest John Feit is accused in the 1960 murder of 27-year-old Irene Garza in 1960 (CNN).

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Many thought, but few actually believed that a small town Catholic priest would be capable of such a savage crime. Fifty-six long years later, former priest John Feit, now a married grandfather living in Arizona has been arrested in connection with the 1960 ... continue reading


Ash Wednesday and Lent. It Works if you Work It Watch

Image of After receiving the ashes, we are exhorted to leave the Church as penitents and pilgrims and continue in a Christian way of life every day

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If we enter into the observance of Lent with our entire person, it can draw us, at its' closure, into a deeper embrace and experience of the power of the Resurrection, beginning right now and stretching into eternity. Our frequent liturgical celebrations present ... continue reading


No Catholic or other Christian Should Support the Candidacy of Bernie Sanders Watch

Image of Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America, denies the fundamental Human Right to Life of children in the womb.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Legalized abortion on demand is an open rejection of the entire ethic of being our brothers (and sisters) keeper. There can be no enduring lasting solidarity upon which to build a secure future in a culture that kills its own children and calls it a right. No ... continue reading


Mardi Gras' several names and traditions: How is it celebrated around the world? Watch

Image of Mardi Gras is famous for its colors, masks, beads, food, floats and more (Pixabay)!

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

People around the world celebrate Fat Tuesday each year with regional traditions - but did you know it is a celebration with roots in Christianity?  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Fat Tuesday" is English for the French "Mardi Gras," and is traditionally ... continue reading


7 Fun facts about Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras celebrations Watch

Image of Mardi Gras first became a holiday in 1582.

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday; it comes directly before Ash Wednesday. "Mardi Gras is a raucous celebratory affair that serves as a final shebang before the 40-day abstinence of Lent," explains The Huffington Post. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amidst all ... continue reading


605,000 undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses in California Watch

Image of California driver's licenses do not bestow any federal benefits to the recipient. State sources say the law is intended to make California roadways safer.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thanks to a new California law known as AB60, which took effect on January 2, 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV has handed out 605,000 driver's licenses to undocumented workers. It is estimated that 1.4 million migrants will receive licenses under ... continue reading


Center for Medical Progress releases another Planned Parenthood video despite injunction Watch

Image of Pro-life CMP stands against abortionists NAF (imgsuccess).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

After ousting illegal actions performed by Planned Parenthood clinics, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), and its founder Daniel Daleiden, have been ordered to cease further distribution of illegally-obtained Planned Parenthood footage. Unfortunately for the ... continue reading


Huff Po Gestapo, beats down Trump, First Amendment with editorial billy club Watch

Image of Huffington Post has found a way to turn the First Amendment into a billy club for their PC police duties.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Liberal mouthpiece, The Huffington Post (not to be confused with an actual news organization) is pandering to liberal readers by posting an addendum at the end of every story about Donald Trump. The addendum labels Trump a "racist" and a "serial liar." LOS ANGELES, CA ... 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, Isaiah 58:1-9
1 Shout for all you are worth, do not hold back, raise your voice like a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6, 18-19
3 For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:14-15
14 Then John's disciples came to him and said, 'Why is it that we and the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 12th, 2016 Image

St. Buonfiglio Monaldo
February 12: He was one of seven Florentines who had joined ... Read More