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“Catholics Come Home” campaign launched here

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By Steve Trosley, The Catholic Telegraph

  Area news reporters gathered Wednesday at St. Peter in Chains to hear about a special media ad campaign that will invite Catholics in the greater Cincinnati-Dayton-Lima area to “come home.

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, Father Jan Schmidt of St. Margaret of York parish in Loveland and Tom Peterson, president and founder of Catholics Come Home Inc. unveiled the campaign during the conference.

Peterson said nine commercials would be aired on Cincinnati radio and television, as well as in Dayton and in Lima. The commercials will be aired 3,500 times. The distribution includes Spanish language radio.

Archbishop Schnurr said the timing coincides with the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council. He said 3,500 parishioners supplied the $200,000 cost of the campaign and Peterson said he expected a significant increase in Mass attendance and other forms of participation, based on his experience in other markets.

“In this Year of Faith, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is recommitting itself to the New Evangelization in many ways,” said the Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati. “One of the most important is this major outreach to our inactive Catholic brothers and sisters of the Archdiocese, inviting them to rejoin us at the table of the Lord.”

“Many Catholics just slip away quietly,” Father Schmidt said.

Peterson said many who see the spots say they were just waiting to be invited back and Archbishop Schnurr said the “parishes will be there with open arms to welcome them back.”

He also explained that part of the New Evangelization proclaimed by Pope Benedict is a call to Catholics to “open the doors more widely.”

Discussing the decline in numbers of Catholics deeply engaged in the practice of the faith, Archbishop Schnurr said, “This is reflective of the culture in the United States.”

“Some of the drift we see is due to a misunderstanding of the Church’s teaching,” the archbishop said citing the late Cardinal Avery Dulles following Vatican II.

Peterson, Archbishop Schnurr and Father Schmidt all cited the issue of divorced Catholics who want to return to the Church but believe there’s no pathway for them. “We will tell them come and talk to us, there is a pathway for you,” Peterson said.

“Are many just waiting for an invitation?” a reporter asked. Peterson said in many cases, that was all it took.CatholicsComeHome.org, is an evangelization initiative to welcome people home to the Catholic Church, and a collaborative effort between Catholics Come Home® and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Catholics Come Home, Inc. is a lay Catholic organization, which creates and broadcasts media messages that extend a gentle invitation to inactive Catholics and others to come home to the Catholic faith.  “Our invitation is simple,” says Peterson:  “We are Catholic. Welcome home.”  The grassroots CatholicsComeHome.org movement is able to air television commercials thanks to the support of thousands of local Catholic families who are eager to share their Catholic faith with others.

Commercials direct viewers to CatholicsComeHome.org or to CatolicosRegresen.org (Spanish website) to learn more about the Catholic faith and return to the Catholic Church.

By the end of Advent 2011, Catholics Come Home® commercials had reached more than 50 million television viewers through initiatives in 35 (arch) dioceses including:  Seattle, Phoenix, St. Louis, Chicago, and Boston, helping more than 350,000 people come home to the Catholic Church and increasing Mass attendance an average of 10 percent.

These initial local campaigns preceded the first-ever U.S. national television buy launched in Advent 2011. The prime-time national network campaign reached more than 125 million U.S. TV viewers an average of 10 times.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 38th largest Catholic diocese in the country with almost 500,000 Catholics, and has the seventh largest network of Catholic schools in terms of enrollment.  The 19-county territory includes 214 parishes and 114 Catholic primary and secondary schools.

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