You may have seen experiences of speed and excitement while watching skiing events in the winter Olympics, but that is nothing compared to what’s been going on in the Office for Evangelization in the last 8 months!
It was mid summer when three dioceses (Chicago, Joliet and Rockford) began coordinating on an evangelization initiative called Catholics Come Home. The plan was to air 2,000 television ads in 3 languages over 10 stations in 5 ½ weeks beginning December 16 inviting Catholics to return to the practice of the faith. During the Fall our staff held training sessions for over 320 Parish Contacts, informational meetings for 650 parish receptionists and dozens of presentations at Parish and Deanery meetings throughout the Archdiocese, and we started our website.
During Advent, the phone calls and e-mails began coming in. Throughout January and February we have heard from many people who have come home to the Catholic Church. Each person brings with him/her a story of a difficult time in their lives though the outcome of their return is always a sense of peace and joy.
Now it’s March and Catholics Come Home Chicago keeps going and going and …
The TV ads were just the invitation, now the parishes and the Archdiocese are guiding those that are returning to full participation in the life of the Church. Priests continue to hear confessions of those who have returned. During Lent many parishes are sponsoring events to help returning Catholics know their faith better through a 6-week series called HOMECOMING. After Easter there will be 10 presentations by the Tribunal called Understanding Annulment to help returning Catholics with the challenges that come with divorce.
We should be handing out gold medals to the parishes that put up banners, sent out postcards, created “goodie bags,” and went door to door to invite people back to the Church. The ads may be over now, but evangelization will continue for a long time with the excitement that comes from using modern media as a way to invite everyone in our family of faith to come home.