Friday, November 20, 2009

There's no place like home!

Most evangelization that takes place in the Catholic Church these days happens through lay apostolates. One of my favorites is, started by Tom Peterson, a former advertising executive who channeled his talents into producing advertisements directed at bringing inactive Catholics back to the Church. What caught my attention was an article stating that 92,000 Catholics returned to the Church in the Phoenix Diocese after the ads ran on local television stations.

When I viewed his short videos on the website, I was immediately hooked. They are powerful messages, professionally crafted. My favorite depicts the particular judgment where people watch a movie of various events in their lives. In fact, the entire website is a great resource for anyone interested in the Catholic Faith. Being the webmaster for our parish website, I added a link to hoping some of the inactive Catholics in our area might find it helpful. I also made a donation sufficient to get their magnetic logo to display on my vehicle, and a DVD copy of the videos to pass around.

Our parish, like many others, suffers from falling attendance. It did not happen overnight. Over the past forty years, numbers have diminished. Some of it is demographics. Though the population in our area has probably remained constant or even increased some, the average age has undoubtedly risen. Jobs here are difficult to find, so the younger generation tends to move on to greener pastures. Years ago, we had two priests and four Sunday Masses, some of which were standing room only. Now, we are fortunate to have one priest with three Sunday Masses, with the church barely half full at any of them. Recently, our bishop announced the closing of another parish in our diocese., something that could happen to us a few years from now.

Our pastor publishes the amount of parish income in our bulletin each week, along with the average weekly income needed to sustain the parish. It is not unusual to see a thousand dollar per week shortfall. The economy being what it is today does not bode well for seeing any increase in parish revenue. If we are to survive as a parish, we need to increase our numbers. The sad irony is the fact that we need a financial crisis to spur us to get people back to church. We have been in a spiritual crisis for many years with little effort made to rectify the situation.

I gave the DVD copy of the CatholicsComeHome videos to our pastor, who in turn gave it to the Liturgy and Worship Committee for our parish. They were also impressed and plan to show the ads before Sunday Masses during Advent. In addition, the ads are scheduled to appear on Chicago television stations beginning in December. Chicago television viewing is limited in our area, but I hope the Holy Spirit will guide some of local fallen-away Catholics to right time and channel. How nice it would be to see them during halftime of a Notre Dame game. Eventually, the ads may run nationally during prime time, but that requires much money. I hope good Catholics everywhere will support the effort.