Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By David Hartline

7/9/2008 (7 years ago)

Zenit News Agency (

Tom Peterson, founder of, has found television and the Internet to be just the place to reach out to those wishing to come back to the Church.


By David Hartline

Zenit News Agency (

7/9/2008 (7 years ago)

Published in U.S.

PHOENIX, Arizona (Zenit) - For many who have left the Catholic Church, there is often a great desire to come home.

However, fear and guilt often lead many to put off the gnawing decision to return to the Church. Not knowing where to turn, many who were once faithful feel lost and ashamed.

Tom Peterson, founder of, has found television and the Internet to be just the place to reach out to those wishing to come back to the Church.

Earlier this year Peterson tested his methods and ideas using an advertising campaign geared toward the 3.5 million who live in the Diocese of Phoenix.

More than 6,000 people inquired and came back to the Church via the Web site, and many more came back to Catholicism by reporting directly to a parish near their home. One priest reported that 16 people came to him for confession after they saw the television ad.

"One of the biggest surprises for us was the amount of inquiries from those who are not Catholic," said Peterson.

"About one quarter of those expressing an interest in the Catholic Church are from those who have seen our commercials or visited our Web site and want to better understand the Catholic Church, or have actually made the decision to become Catholic."


When sorting out what caused many to leave the Church, Peterson said "about 90% of those who left the Church can't give a good reason."

He also explained that many can't express why they want to come back. Many simply say they felt something was missing.

"They often want to come home but don't know how. They feel uncomfortable about coming back and don't know what to do -- when to sit and when to stand, and what to pray. We try to ease those fears and remind them of God's desire to see them come home," the director said.

Once they come back to Church, he added, they feel renewed. "They experience the Eucharist again and the power of confession. They feel their hunger for the truth has been met and a feeling of joy overcomes them."

When asked why he thought his brief television commercials had such an impact, Peterson said: "Our commercials are a basic reminder of who we are, the Church Jesus founded, the Church that Jesus entrusted to Peter and every pope who followed him.

"We are the Church that gave the world the Bible. When we quickly explain these facts and use the Bible to do it, people really respond. They admit that either they never really knew this or simply forget."


Peterson said he is often greeted with surprise as to how well has done. Several testimonies sent to his site show the impact it has had on viewers.

After seeing the commercials on Phoenix television, a visitor named Michael wrote, "It is highly effective and so very much needed at this time."

Another from an Angela said, "I've been away from the Church for over 35 years and over the past 20 years I have become agnostic. [...] For me to actually look this site up from a TV ad says a lot."

For some the commercials brought a great sense of joy. David wrote, "I wanted to commend you on the commercial. Wow. That was really well done. I'm so proud to be Catholic!"

Even non-Catholics wrote into the Web site to praise their efforts. Jean said, "I am not Catholic, but I think your commercials are extremely well done, tasteful and persuading."

Still another e-mailer, Deborah, was so impressed that she wrote, "I am interested in the Catholic Church. What do I have to do to convert?"


The project has even caught the attention of the Holy See. Recently, Peterson said, he discussed the initiative with Cardinal John Foley, prefect of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, and Archbishop Claudio Celli, prefect of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

While the results have surpassed his expectations, Peterson explains that this is only just the beginning. The group has plans to launch similar campaigns this winter in St. Louis, Lincoln, Colorado Springs, Sacramento, Atlanta and Fargo.

"We are ramping up to 2010," he added, "when we hope to start a national advertising campaign starting with the 2010 Super Bowl."

Peterson takes no credit for his success. He simply says: "The world needs Jesus. We need to remind others how much they are loved by Jesus and needed by our Church family."

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Catholics Come Home:


More U.S.

What it was like to fly Pope Francis around America: American Airlines crew speaks out Watch

Image of The Pope blessed the crew, their families, and the plane during his tour.


Pope Francis' American Airlines flight crew has opened up about the spiritual experience, claiming the papal meeting was "like seeing God." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pilot George Griffin, his co-pilots and 15 cabin crew members were picked from a pool of ... continue reading

New ISIS video features a 'cub of the caliphate' directly threaten US President Barack Obama Watch

Image of A young ISIS member delivers a threat to US President Barack Obama (YouTube).


A young ISIS jihadi was featured in an ISIS video dressed in army fatigues and holding a rocket launcher as he  delivered a threat to US President Barack Obama. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A young boy who looks to be no more than 10-years-old was recorded ... continue reading

Did Clinton hide the discovery of the Khobar Towers bombers? Watch

Image of Former US President Bill Clinton (Brothersoft)


In order to reestablish diplomatic ties with Tehran, former U.S. President Bill Clinton hid the discovery of Iran's involvement of the Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 U.S. servicemen in 1996. The allegations are not new, but in a recent report, heavy evidence ... continue reading

Terrorists can easily enter the U.S. through Texas/Mexico border Watch

Image of


Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, warned the U.S. was vulnerable in terms of infiltration through the country's southern border. McCraw reported some people coming from countries flagged to have "terrorism presence."  LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

STUDY: Arabic, Urdu the fastest growing secondary languages in the United States Watch

Image of The most recent census study shows that the fastest-growing foreign languages are languages spoken by immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.


The Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey reports that between 2010 and 2014, there was a 29 percent increase in Arabic spoken in the United States. There is also a 23 percent increase in Urdu, and a nine percent jump in Persian, the language spoken in ... continue reading

California mother punched in the face by police files lawsuit Watch

Image of The police officer allegedly pulled over Cindy Hahn moments later on an alleged seat belt violation and arrested Hahn as her children watched.


The one sure thing about cell phone technology is that authority figures will not be able to slip easily from the law. A 40-year-old mother is suing the city of Carlsbad, California after being physically assaulted by police officers in July of 2013. It was all ... continue reading

Cargo ship missing after sailing into Hurricane Joaquin Watch

Image of Katie and Keith Griffin (Facebook).


El Faro, a cargo ship, was caught in Hurricane Joaquin, leaving several American crew members missing. Worried friends and family of the missing staff members continue to hope for survivors. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The US Coast Guard announced that they ... continue reading

Oregon shooting hero still in recovery: Donations for his medical expenses surpass $700,000 Watch

Image of Chris Mintz.


Chris Mintz left a happy birthday message for his nonverbal autistic son on Thursday before going to his classes at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Later, he reportedly set off fire alarms as a gunman opened fire. Mintz charged the shooter, was ... continue reading

Two farmers in Michigan unearth woolly mammoth remains Watch

Image of Because of the tight harvest schedule, the farmers gave researchers a single day to unearth the find. Excavators worked intently last week until sundown.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two farmers in Michigan made a momentous find while they dug a drainage ditch. The remains of a woolly mammoth, enormous tusks intact, was unearthed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - James Bristle of Lima Township was digging in a soybean field early last week ... continue reading

President Obama shares how Pope Francis's visit to the U.S. makes him want to be better Watch

Image of President Obama with Pope Francis during the pontiffs visit to the U.S.


It has been a week since Pope Francis' historical visit to the U.S. However, his presence and inspiration continues to linger as President Obama revealed he wants to become better after his meeting with the Pope. WASHINGTON D.C. (Catholic Online) - The pope is back in ... continue reading

All U.S. News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Malachi 3:13-20
13 'You have said harsh things about me, says Yahweh. ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:5-13
5 He also said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 8th, 2015 Image

St. Pelagia
October 8: Pelagia, more often called Margaret, on account of the ... Read More