“Catholics Come Home”

A reader alerted me to an initiative undertaken in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savanah.

Here is an excerpt from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The archdiocese, in partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Savannah, is embarking on an aggressive evangelization campaign called “Catholics Come Home,” which was launched partly to bring the once-faithful back into the fold. The campaign, which will run from Dec. 16 through Jan. 29, will include television commercials in English and Spanish, the use of the Internet and social media and census counts at area services.

The program also falls in step with a call by the late Pope John Paul II for the church to undergo “a new evangelization.”

[...]

This is the sort of thing we need.

Frankly, I believe the older forms of liturgy, and liturgical worship informed by a deep sense of continuity, together with strong clear preaching must form the tip of the spear and the binding that holds the tip.

Fallen-away Catholics are numerous.  Something must be done.

Technorati Tags: ,

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to “Catholics Come Home”

  1. msgrbarr says:

    The Rockford, Illinois Diocese in conjunction with Chicago and Joliet, did Catholics Come Home last year at Christmas and found it a wonderful opportunity to re-invite those who were lost or who wandered. It was also a great way to spread the news about the Catholic faith. We liked it so much that all three dioceses are doing it again this Christmas. I’m the chair of our diocesan effort and it is a privilege to be involved with such a fine project. By itself, media won’t bring the lost back, but it sure helps get people to start thinking and praying again. If you’d like to see our diocesan web page on Catholics Come Home check it out here: http://www.catholicscomehomerockford.org/

  2. zippityzach says:

    This seems to be an amazing program! From what I understand this program started in Phoenix and has spread out from there. While the Arch-Diocese of Atlanta is pushing that it be used not every church has to participate in the program. The Diocese of Charlotte will be airing the Catholics Come Home commercials soon on prime time television on both local and cable networks. Each parish can choose to participate in whatever way they wish, by posting signs and billboards, sending people to registered but lapsed Catholics homes for discussion, and/or having members of the parish form a team to welcome and, over time, lead people back to Rome. One of the other benefits of this program is not just that it brings Catholics back, but offers programs and materials for addressing Protestants and atheists that are interested in joining the Church as well!

    I think this is going to be a wonderful program and the way it is being advertised is really non-confrontational, and not pushy! Take a look at their “Epic” video. There are other videos that address specific issues, but this one really wraps it all up!

    I’m a brand new user and glad I hit preview post, cause it seems you can’t embed videos into replies :( Here’s the direct link!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs6qZd_xP1w

    Happy Advent!
    Zach

  3. Jerry says:

    “This is the sort of thing we need.”

    We need to bring the fallen-away Catholics back to the Church (or, in many cases, I suspect bring them to the true Church for the first time, but I digress…). Is the approach they are taking in GA the way to do it? It’s difficult to say since there is a scarcity of details in the article. I’m suspicious, though, given the amount of discussion about people not finding what they want in the Church and no mention of addressing false beliefs and expectations.

    If this turns out to be an exercise in making it appear the Church is more relevant to modern lifestyles, not only is it destined to fail, but it may cause much additional harm.

  4. Alexis says:

    As a member of the Church in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, I can attest that even at the two hippy dippy [only] Catholic places of worship here (student center & parish church), the equally-hippy-dippy priests put it on the showscreen and allowed the congregation to watch the new commercials. They’re pretty good; one especially is geared towards the emphasis on Catholic tradition & transcendence.

    So I’m guessing it must be a requirement from the Archdiocese that every parish show this video introduction to the faithful to familiarize themselves with its content and also (judging from the remarks by each of the priests, neither of whom is particularly bent on [re]conversion), it seems the Archdiocese is requesting that priests exhort the faithful to target known ex-Catholic friends or family members and bring them to Mass, etc.

    A very worthy endeavor! Some things may be a little off here in the AofA, but overall its a vibrant and healthy archdiocese, but occasionally sometimes in despite of His Excellency Archbishop Gregory.

  5. tonyballioni says:

    The Diocese of Charlotte is doing it in North Carolina too, not sure about the Diocese of Raleigh. Apparently the bishop is telling the parishes to be prepared for an influx of new families because this has worked wonders in other diocese in the past.

    Also, several local parishes are putting on “Do Catholics really believe…?” panels or something of the like to explain the teachings of the Church to fallen away Catholics, or people who were never Catholic. I think this is the sort of thing that we need to see more of.

  6. Maggie says:

    My diocese participated in the ad campaign this past Lent. According to the results, perhaps as many as 10,000 fallen-away Catholics returned to Mass (or so far as they can guess, based on headcounts at various points of the year). In Corpus Christi and Phoenix, two other dioceses where the program was tried, the return rate was between 12 and 18%. Fantastic results.
    And yes, the commercials are very well made and focus on traditional and easily-recognized features of Catholicism. In fact, some of my hippy-dippy “Spirit of VII,” anti-hierarchical colleagues disliked the ads because they emphasized things like receiving the Eucharist and repenting of one’s sins.
    Each commercial encourages viewers to “visit catholicscomhome.org,” where there are excellent resources, frequently asked questions, a parish finder (by zip code) and so forth.
    This is exciting news indeed!

  7. lizfromFL says:

    @tonyballioni, I think a “do Catholics really believe…” thing would be great. Just coming back to mass on Christmas isn’t going to cut it. I know ALOT of the fallen-away, and what they need is to be re-catechized. They have all sorts of bizarre ideas of Church teaching, which have been encouraged by their encounters with evangelicals who prey on them.

  8. Jerry says:

    Alexis and Maggie — thanks for the information. That’s very good news.

  9. elaine says:

    Catholics Come Home website is catholicscomehome.org, for more info
    they are based out of the Arch of Atl.

  10. Torkay says:

    Frankly, I believe the older forms of liturgy, and liturgical worship informed by a deep sense of continuity, together with strong clear preaching must form the tip of the spear and the binding that holds the tip.

    Amen to that – and to take it one step further, why would any Catholic want to come home to a Novus Ordo? The mainstream liturgy of the Church isn’t “home” at all – it is an alien presence and poison embedded in the heart of the Church. Home is Tradition, not the present-day shambles arranged by Freemasons, Communists and Modernists.

  11. AnAmericanMother says:

    Torkay,

    There are souls to be saved whilst you’re carping about the Ordinary Form.

    We attend a parish that celebrates the Ordinary Form with great reverence. We have first-class music that I would put up against any church of ANY denomination anywhere in Georgia, a traditional and beautiful church building, and straight up orthodox preaching from the clergy, who do not hesitate to tackle the hard and unpleasant issues. We chant the Ordinary in Latin (and Greek) every first Sunday, and our younger priests are adding Latin steadily. I think the addition of an EF Mass is a distinct possibility in the future, particularly since a little bird told me that somebody has ordered the FSSP DVD . . . .

    I’m not really thrilled with the Ordinary Form since I was raised in a High Church Episcopal parish with the incomparable English of the old BCP as well as more Latin than you would expect. Anyway, here I am just the same . . . and others will come as well if encouraged. And things will get better (and they already are).

    The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    As for the “Catholics Come Home” program, I think it’s a good thing, although it’s going to have limited application here except for recent immigrants to the South (and probably some traditional Episcopalians and Lutherans). I can count the Catholic families I knew here growing up (back in the 50s) on the fingers of one hand. . . I actually knew more Greek Orthodox families!

    I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Archbishop Gregory, by the way. There’s a strong contingent of orthodox, old-fashioned Catholics here, and I think some of that has rubbed off on him.

  12. tonyballioni says:

    “Amen to that – and to take it one step further, why would any Catholic want to come home to a Novus Ordo? The mainstream liturgy of the Church isn’t “home” at all – it is an alien presence and poison embedded in the heart of the Church. Home is Tradition, not the present-day shambles arranged by Freemasons, Communists and Modernists.”

    It is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The same sacrifice made on Calvary. The same sacrifice made in 1962. The Novus Ordo, CAN be celebrated beautifully, look at the ones that Pope Benedict celebrates.

    Do I prefer the EF, and think that it is a clearer presentation of Catholic teaching, yes. Do I think the Novus Ordo is innately bad, and an “alien presence and poison embedded in the heart of the Church.” No.

  13. M.D.R. says:

    Torkay, do you mind if I ask….how is the NO/OF of the mass poisonous or an alien presense? I attend a TLM, but as I was driving in my car this morning, I listened to the EWTN mass. It was quite nice, not at all poisonous or alien. I don’t see how any of it would be appealing at all to Freemasons, Communists or Modernists. Part of the mass was in Latin, such as the “Domine, non sum dignus……,” as well as the Agnus Dei. And, in English, Our Blessed Mother was referred to as….”The Virgin Mary, Mother of God.”
    This mass wasn’t, perhaps, showing as great and deep a revernce as the TLM, but there wasn’t anything in it, IMO, that would be pleasing at all to non-Catholics. How long has it been since you attended or listened to an NO/OF mass?

  14. S. Murphy says:

    “to take it one step further, why would any Catholic want to come home to a Novus Ordo? ”

    I reckon because if they give us Jesus in Etruscan with Disco, they’re still giving us Jesus. I think when people come back, and really mean it – not just visiting for Midnight Mass — it’s because that circuit finally lights up in their brain – the one that says “It’s really Him, my Lord and my God.”

    You obviously feel about the NO the way I feel about Macy’s, instead of Marshall Fields’, on State street. With all due respect, the NO is still the Eucharist. and when it’s done right, it doesn’t let you forget that.

  15. benedetta says:

    Where I live they are rolling out some sort of program of their own design, inviting parishes to show their dvd to lapsed Catholics. Seeing the beautiful production of Catholics Come Home I can’t imagine that they would have the resources or wherewithal to create something of that level of quality. Perhaps though it is just as well that we don’t have Catholics Come Home here because upon coming back searching for the beauty and challenge depicted in the video likely they would be seriously disappointed and just say forget about it. But many supposed lapsed were trained in a specific approach and spin and having internalized it, namely that God loves them just as they are and needn’t be guilted or shamed into doing anything in order to be a disciple, what can now be said? “Oh, never mind” (emily litella) — “we take it back, you should be coming to the church, um, etc.” and, “yes, we are still doing the same things we did back when you were little”. Come to church, don’t come, it’s all the same, was the message, and, now well, it’s still the message…

  16. elaine says:

    @Anamericanmother: which parish is this in Atl?

  17. Randii says:

    “Frankly, I believe the older forms of liturgy, and liturgical worship informed by a deep sense of continuity,”

    I don’t see this as being especially true. ["especially" true?]

    If it were why are Orthodox parishes in the US as well as Eastern Rite parishes here losing many of their young to evangelical or pentecostal churches? This is as big a problem for them as it is for the Catholic church in the US.

    In Russia and much of Orthodox Eastern Europe evangelical Christian missionaries are having much success in getting Orthodox Christians to convert to evangelical Christianity.

    No one can accuse the Orthdox or Eastern Rites of not having “old” or reverent liturgies – yet these groups are still losing many members just as the NO Catholic church is.

  18. tonyballioni says:

    @Randii:

    I would argue the problem for both Churches is poor catechesis. Most of the Orthodox that I know don’t know much about their faith other than they go to the Divine Liturgy every Sunday (if that). If you don’t know why to believe the hard teachings of the Church, the nice fluffy teachings of the evangelicals sound pretty nice, until you realize that they are missing something.

  19. green fiddler says:

    The founder of Catholics Come Home was the guest of Fr. Benedict Groeschel on his EWTN Sunday Night program this week. (There is a replay on Saturday at 5pm EST, 2pm PST.)
    The videos are great. He spoke of many conversions.

  20. Mitchell NY says:

    I truly hope that when they walk in a Church for the first time in 20, 30, or 40 years and they speak candidly about why they left that there is sincere listening and concrete steps to make them feel secure again. Having had a family member who unfortunately passed before anyone would not only listen to her, though she stayed with the Church several days a week even volunteering, but do something would have been the greatest wish I could have had for her. How I wish she would have lived to see this Pontificate. Priests and especially Bishops, do not squander the moment. It will not happen again.

  21. Acolythus says:

    @AnAmericanMother

    “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

    Shouldn’t we strive for the perfect, not for the merely good? I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “aim for Heaven, end up in Purgatory. Aim for Purgatory, end up in Hell.” (I’m not commenting on the argument. I just hate that expression.)

  22. AnAmericanMother says:

    Acolythus,

    Yeah, I know what you mean, but ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ didn’t seem quite right either.

    One should strive for the perfect at all times. But while doing so, one should be encouraging those who aren’t quite as far along the road to perfection as ones wonderful self, rather than anathematizing them as “alien”, “poison,” and “shambles”, let alone “Freemasons, Communists and Modernists.”

    Last time I checked, our parish, while far from perfect, is none of the above.

    Sometimes the way-out Trads make my teeth ache. And I’m a sympathizer, for heaven’s sake!

  23. Stvsmith2009 says:

    This is a good idea, one long overdue. I was going to say more, but my reply would have been far too long. I ended up writing something about this myself and posting it on my own blog. It is especially in regard to converts.

  24. Let me tell you how “Catholics Come Home” works by way of limited analogy.

    “I have a special prayer that if said for 30 days will make the grass grow and flowers bloom. I will sell you this prayer for $100. If you begin this “novena” on March 15, I guarantee that within 30 days your grass will grow and your flowers will bloom.”

    “Since the grass grows and the flowers bloom AS EXPECTED in the Spring, I can use your successful experience to sell more copies of my special prayer to others who will be impressed by your experience.”

    “Catholics Come Home” almost invariably plans their campaigns for the Christmas season, when everyone knows there are COUNTLESS Catholics who already “come home” at least for Christmas and, maybe with nagging guilt, keep “coming home” for a while. Measuring the success of “Catholics Come Home” by the rate of Catholics returning to Mass at Christmas is like promising that they have a campaign for green lawns in the Spring. There are no credible statistics that allow for measurement of what their campaigns accomplish that wouldn’t have happened all by itself. Since dioceses pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for these campaigns, no diocese who has paid for these campaigns would ever admit to having been had by marketers making money off of the Church.

    I truly admire the marketing genius who figured out how to make money from what happens anyway. All that was needed was a slick media campaign followed by aggressive statistical analysis (never done before) to convince everyone that these marketers actually gave the diocese something for its money. It is truly an “Emperor’s New Clothes” fairy tale.

  25. archer says:

    I pray the campaign will work. I have discovered that most who have left the Church have done so due to some kind of misunderstanding or failure to have felt they were heard when a problem arose–they were literally ignored and treated as a nothing. This is a bad selling point. And then there are some who either do not believe all the Church teaches or believe something the Church does not teach and it is easier for them to make up the rules rather than follow them. This is the mark of a tough customer. They have had problems with clergy or religious that seemingly never got resolved for some reason or another, this usually happening in their formative years or a situation where marriages are involved. This is the quality of an unhappy customer who at least just “stuck it out”, at best.

    I need not say it, but the nightmare of the pedophile priest haunts some of them and this is the primary reason why many have left, vowing never to return. These are the individuals who will be the greatest enemies of the Church and attempt to recruit others in their anger any way they can.

    I would imagine it will take a small miracle to change those individuals’ minds at that point.

    Are these individuals the ones that this new campaign is targeting, or should the real issue be a change in how the clergy handles situations BEFORE or WHEN they happen? I often found an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in this situation. The Church has only recently began to shape up the ship, but getting former members to return is going to be a real task. New members are much better at teaching, but we must get back into real traditional values and practices to do this properly and soundly. The V2 experience was a great lesson, but it was a terrible failure in both experiment and results.

    Here is a serious consideration: A well organized parish should be a model for those potential members to see, but this does not always happen like that in the real world. It is because we are not perfect, but human, I know. But a concentrated effort must be practiced (Bishops and clergy and faithful working together) if we are to make any progress at all in bringing in old and new members. It is not about creating an “attractive” parish or Church, but a Church that says it is unlike any other institution in the world. The Church has had problems, but nothing that a little work cannot fix. If one want to be a politician, run for an office. If one wants to be entertained, go see a circus. If one want to worship God, do so properly. Nobody wants to be a member of a group of “hypocrites”, which is the term I hear about Catholics (and the Church) from many non and former Catholic than anyone else today. I know this type of individual does exist in the Church, but let us disprove this theory by being honest with ourselves and others about what we are about individually.

    Another big problem I have experienced (or rather witnessed) in some more liberal parishes is the inter-parish problems of imagined personal politics that some must seemingly practice, often while the parish priest looks sheepishly on, doing nothing to keep his flock together. I know of some who have experienced some form of ostracization because they may have spoken out about certain Nuvo Ordo liturgical abuses that they witnessed. Some have spoken out about the abuses and liberties that their parish priests were engaged in. They may have taken their issues to the Bishop and been met with a deaf ear and some even treated as a criminal. This should not be happening.

    As an evangelist myself, I urge all to join the Catholic Church, but will often be always contradicted by them who ask me why they should and give me many of the reasons above as to why they will never return to the Church. Combating this usually entails a great effort to convince them that there are caring clergy and religious in the Church, but the media is too often believed and myths tend to prevail with the new potential convert. It is not a big hurdle, but one that is still there. Prayer is the only method that will work with them, as their minds are set hard. I have discovered that many disgruntled former Catholics are usually the ones who are the most anti-Catholic, and this is scary. What happened? Ask and you will get a very angry answer from them that often hits you deep that these individuals believed they were making the rules. They discovered their error and simply left. Bad catechism is the leading cause of many leaving the Church.

    I would wonder if it would not be a better campaign to repair the ship from inside before attempting to bring in former (or even new) family members who left because it was seemingly sinking in the first place? I have always found it strange to have to ever CONVINCE anyone to be or remain a Catholic. We are not selling shoes here. Either one is Catholic or is not—there is no middle ground or compromises to be considered, so the choice would be clear to those who would truly seek salvation to come back to, or join the Catholic Church.

    I believe we started having problems when Vatican 2 no longer required a person to be Catholic in order to achieve salvation outside the Catholic Church. Some people got confused, convinced themselves they alone were right, and stayed away from the Church. There seems to be so many reasons people don’t want to come back, but the most important one always slips their mind in conversations I have with them on the Church. Still, if you want former Catholics to return, it is going to take changes in the Church. We must get the Church Catholic once again, and then true Catholics will come back.

  26. AnAmericanMother says:

    Did you read the article? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is a reflexively far-left liberal and usually anti-Catholic paper. Check THIS “typical ex-Catholic” out:

    Diane Allen, a sales representative for scientific equipment company, said she left the church 25 years ago. The Gwinnett County resident became a Methodist and later converted to Islam in 2007.

    Allen said she left because the Catholic church seemed “out of touch with regular people.” She objects to the role of women in the church [And so she converted to Islam, which always treats women with great dignity.] and also disagrees with its policy that forbids priests to marry.

    Ah . . . yeah. Right.

    Talk about ‘out of touch with regular people’ . . . ?!?! I’m sure the AJC really had to hunt around to find THAT one.

  27. Joseph James says:

    @ AnAmericanMother:

    Tell me about it. I am a traditionalist for sure, even though there are no TLM’s offered in any kind of reasonable distance from where I live. I would even move to a parish based on just that offering, but I can’t possibly justify moving my protestant family to suit what they already consider to be a rather evil cultic conversion on my part.
    I cringe at the liturgical abuses that I see here in Canada. I am glad that I read and learned enough on my own about the Faith before actually being received and learning how many parishes and Catholics aren’t really very….Catholic.

    But I attend Mass in the OF with great joy and humble thanks, finally able to receive almost daily the single greatest Gift that has ever been given or received. I get choked up just thinking about the impossibly immense privilege and mystery of receiving the Infinite God in Holy Communion (kneeling, and on the tongue, though I am the only one in the parish who does so).

    I hope I never call the Source and Summit of the Christian life “Poisonous”. Alien, maybe, from one theological perspective, in that it is a foretaste of the world to come. But never poisonous. I never want to be like the one other traddy I know, who, in rosary group, when we recite the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, refuses to respond to the newer addition of the invocation “Star of Evangelization”.

    St. Joseph, please protect and strengthen Holy Church, uphold the Holy Father, and may we all faithfully follow his lead into greater faithfulness. Amen.

  28. For 12 years I was professor of religious students and history at the University of Oregon, and my colleague the sociologist Benton Johnson (a philo-Catholic Presbyterian) did major studies on why people actually leave their churches. The answer was that in over 70% of the cases, they moved. They went to church in one place, they moved, and never linked up again. This was true across the denominations.

    When asked to explain why they didn’t link up with a new church, they gave all sorts of excuses: bad preaching, mean clergy, didn’t agree with some moral or doctrinal position, etc. When factoring for variables, the short answer was they just where not all that involved or attached and moving was enough to brake the bond. When they had to explain the lapse, they struggled to find someone (or some “church” thing) to blame. But it was bogus.

    When people move, what is the most likely indicator that they will stay in the church: how much the denomination demanded of them. Big demands, mean commitment. On the other hand those who left “big demand” churches, HATE the denomination they left. Those who leave groups with little or no perceived demands have faint nostalgic memories of the church.

    The lapsed Catholics leave because they move. Once they have plenty to defend their choice thanks to their exposure to the secular media’s cant: Catholicism is sexually repressive and bigoted against women’s rights. But they only voice that if they are forced to defend their lapsing. Unlike Protestants, the media allows them to HATE the Church, even if their local parish asked virtually nothing of them. But the ex-Catholic haters are a very small group. Most, like Lib. Prots. just left because they moved, and they don’t have any real reasons other than self-justification.

    The short version of this is, if you go out and invite Catholic people back, they will probably come, and come in mass. So long as they are not asked to defend why they left. What you do when they come back is a harder question.

    As for the future, more demands will mean more devotion and attachment. But as Ben Johnson said of the mainline Presbyterians, and I quote, “it is really hard to impose the old demands; they tried but they couldn’t do it.” In short, the risk of losing current members by new demands was too great a risk for making them and returing members more committed. Ergo, as Ben said, there are now 1/3 as many Presbyterians as in 1950 . . .

  29. Jayna says:

    @Terry: In addition to commercials being shown on television that fallen away or non-Catholics will see, many of the priests here in Atlanta are advising their own parishioners to encourage others to “come home.” It’s aimed at lapsed Catholics, but practicing Catholics will gain from it as well as they will be reminded that they themselves are home and that there is a real need to reach out to others. And CCH acknowledges from the start that more people tend to show up at church during Advent/Christmas, which is why they wait to release any statistics until long after the fact, when they can actually tell if it stuck. I doubt the Archdiocese of Chicago would have done this campaign twice (and again this year) if there was no noticeable difference in Mass attendance.

    It has been a pretty massive undertaking here. The Sunday prior to Christ the King, all parishes in the archdiocese showed a video of Arbp. Gregory talking about the program, along with the commercials, in lieu of a homily. I believe the same was done for Spanish Masses with Bp. Zarama. The archdiocese may have a long way to go theologically and liturgically (though we are blessed with an FSSP parish), but getting the lapsed Catholics/non-Catholics in is a step in the right direction given how many end up being far more traditional than those who never left.

  30. Linz says:

    “Fallen-away Catholics are numerous. Something must be done.”

    Amen. There need to be more groups devoted to evangelizing former Catholics. I hope the ads have an impact but I get the feeling they’re a bit of a ‘quick fix.’ They may get some people in the door but real work needs to be done to make sure their return trip isn’t short-lived.

    I can’t speak for others but I can say that my gradual drift away from the Church came about as a result of vague dissatisfaction with spiritually shallow worship, priests with a blasé attitude toward sin that betrayed, in my eyes, either lack of conviction in their own faith or cold indifference toward my spiritual wellbeing, and finally cliques of parishioners preoccupied with social events and goodwill trips (which would have been fine had anyone ever bothered to talk about higher truths or deeper meanings, which is, after all, why I had converted in the first place).

    It all seemed dreadfully banal and this-worldly. I filled the void with Eastern philosophy and Buddhist chant. I didn’t ‘reject’ the Church per se but I stopped going to Mass after I moved (as Fr. Thompson notes) and I didn’t bother to defend Her from the attacks of my secularist friends who were much more convicted in their beliefs than any Catholics I had ever met.

    My attitude only began to change after being introduced to the deep spirituality and beautiful traditions of the faith: the real presence, the nature of God, the sacred chants, the communion of saints, etc. More people need to be exposed to the full beauty and Truth of the Catholic faith. I don’t know if it will ever be widely ‘popular’ but it’s the only thing that’s always ‘relevant’ to those interested in religious truth – which is really the main group we should be trying to attract.

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    I think there’s a lot to what you say, Fr. Thompson. Many Catholics are not very firmly attached to their parishes, which makes it easy to fall away when something else happens in life, like moving. Then, you just never connect again, even to the paltry degree you were connected before, and church gets lost in the shuffle. With the constant carping of the media, then when people are forced to explain why they left, there are “ready-made” excuses. And this is where we get to the interesting part. They might use the excuses for a number of reasons:
    a) They didn’t find a Catholic church they wanted to attend, or
    b) They didn’t get around to it for one reason or another, or
    c) related to both a&b, their previous experience as Catholics didn’t give them any reason to go looking for another Catholic Church. That is, the reasons they had before went away. Those reasons might have been habit, family association, friends & acquaintances, familiarity, etc.
    d) Dissatisfaction consciously or subconsciously with Catholicism on some level, which may not have been polemic at all, drove their inertia. They would have asked themselves why actively, but did they really need to? Sometimes, but not always. Perhaps they just drifted away.

    A huge part of the problem is that many people are not strongly connected to parishes. Parishes tend to be driven in such a way that they can be alienating for a lot of people, for a large number of reasons, not the least of which is sloppy worship. This is a problem.

  32. catholicmidwest says:

    Linz, you are spot on.

    There is a tendency for the Catholic church to be interested in body counts above all, and I think this is part of what drove some of the excesses of V2, including implementation. However, great gigantic hordes of quasi-believers are not the goal, and cannot be the goal of the Catholic church. The goal has to be more than this. It’s not only that somehow people have to get on the inner side of the physical door once in a while, they have to be exposed to the Church’s truth claims and be shown how these really work, and that they themselves really belong and those claims apply to everyone, including themselves.

    Now, if left to many cradle Catholics, this looks like a gigantic burden and they’d rather not do it. But it is really a great privilege and joy to belong to the communion of saints. But the Catholic church on the ground does not have the machinery in place or the will to do this for many people. It’s just a fact. Much of what parishes actually do is driven by cradle Catholics, who are there for their own reasons and for whom this is all a hereditary imposition. They’re muddling on, so to speak and won’t hear of anything else. Thus the clicques in many cases.

  33. JimmyA says:

    As this post and the comment thread demonstrates, the “Catholics Come Home” initiative has:
    (i) A raft of great printed, online and video materials
    (ii) The ability to be easily adapted in various territories
    (iii) A proven track record of actually winning over hearts and minds
    As an Englishman I ask the question as to whether it would not be an effective and good value initiative for own dioceses to roll out, rather than continually trying to reinvent the wheel. Surely if we cannot be confident in our faith in the wake of the recent Papal visit, then we never can!

  34. Traductora says:

    Great video! I always think it a little ironic that the images we use when we want to evoke the Catholic Church in the minds of viewers are the images of the traditional practices and institutions that we spent 40 years trying to destroy. However, I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by harping on that and saying “I told you so” – I’m simply making an observation…

    That said, people love the connection with the Church as 2000 year old institution, and I think this is a wonderful thing to stress. They also want beauty and they want to feel that it is an age-old beauty, not a modern show. In my parish, which is a cathedral parish, the pastor has been experimenting with some traditional practices (40 Hours, for example, with our beautiful monstrance and the great copes we evidently still have tucked away in the sacristy) and has also done Compline complete with candles, a beautifully decorated altar and chant in Latin and English. People really like it and attendance is growing; I also know several fallen away Catholics who I believe are mentally reconciling with the Church as the result of attending these services. And I think a lot of it comes from this feeling of stepping back into that stream of tradition that goes so far back.

  35. Midwest St. Michael says:

    *In fact, some of my hippy-dippy “Spirit of VII,” anti-hierarchical colleagues disliked the ads because they emphasized things like receiving the Eucharist and repenting of one’s sins.*

    If you think the “hippy-dippy ‘Spirit of VII’, anti-hierarchical” types don’t like the adds – check out the CCH materials.

    Materials by the likes of Scott Hahn, Peter Kreeft, Steve Ray, James Drummey, Jimmy Akin, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Tim Gray, Jeff Cavins, etc. etc.

    The materials, by most orthodox standards, are outstanding. However, many of these folks have appeared (or often appear) on EWTN – the “hippy-dippy Spirit of VII” folks *know* this!

    Most of the SOV2 types *do not* like EWTN! – much less the folks who appear regularly on there. This is what I encountered when I came home to the Church. There is a “orthodox bad – fuzzy Catholic-lite good” mentality that is so entrenched into the mind-set of theses folks – I really cannot see the CCH program working for any real length of time.

    As Linz so aptly put it the SOV2 people (most, not all) have *a blasé attitude toward sin that betrayed, in my eyes, either lack of conviction in their own faith or cold indifference toward my spiritual wellbeing, and finally cliques of parishioners preoccupied with social events and goodwill trips (which would have been fine had anyone ever bothered to talk about higher truths or deeper meanings, which is, after all, why I had converted in the first place).*

    This is one of the most forthright (and true) comments I have ever seen on this blog about your typical Catholic parish. Like it or not, this is what you will encounter at the vast majority of Catholic parishes in the U.S. – because the SOV2 types are still the ones in charge.

    Oh no, I have hope – but I am a realist. Until the SOV2 folks are out of control of the chancery/parish offices, seminaries, RCIA programs, CCD programs, etc. – programs like Catholics Come Home will simply fade away (but, hopefully, win more than a few souls to the truth!).

    While I am sure there are some fine examples of success (I pray so) – the reality is most will fail.

  36. benedetta says:

    Interestingly Catholics Come Home is a creative effort by laity; whereas in my locale the hierarchy will be dictating a program of their own fashioning. Catholics Come Home offers solid teaching and beauty, and the one dictated locally could have adopted one with beautiful production and proven track record yet has deliberately rejected it for its faithful. Why?

  37. AnAmericanMother says:

    Elaine,
    Missed your question. Parish is Holy Spirit, Atlanta.

    Midwest St. Michael, Linz,
    Is it perfect? Far from it. We have cliques, we have meddlesome ladies of a certain age (and if I don’t watch out I may wind up being one too), the priests are sometimes overwhelmed with the cares of managing a parish and competing demands, we don’t always respond to the spiritual needs of our fellow men . . . .
    Guess what? We’re human. The priests are human. Everybody has bad days. Sometimes we have splendid days when we rise to the occasion. Power went out in the middle of Mass Sunday. What an opportunity! Chant and a capella polyphony (our choirmaster never missed a beat – and we sing a lot of a capella stuff anyhow so we were ready with “Sicut Cervus”). Even the hymns sounded fine. And how glorious everything looked with just the emergency lighting and candles! And the silence! When people aren’t rustling and fussing and are leaning forward to hear the priest on the altar — you can hear him without electronic gizmos. And microphones make everybody lazy and careless because you can’t HELP hearing . . . . people really got into it and we heard a lot of favorable comments, the best was maybe, “it was so wonderful – just like the old days!” from an elderly lady.
    I expressed a desire to ban microphones forever and ever, but Monsignor rolled his eyes (he does that a lot at me) . . . and I understand. No matter how good the acoustics, a full house of 800+ is not going to be able to hear very well.

  38. Midwest St. Michael says:

    AAM,

    You say, “Chant and a capella polyphony (our choirmaster never missed a beat – and we sing a lot of a capella stuff anyhow so we were ready with “Sicut Cervus”). Even the hymns sounded fine. And how glorious everything looked with just the emergency lighting and candles! And the silence! When people aren’t rustling and fussing and are leaning forward to hear the priest on the altar — ”

    This is great for you! I am pleased.

    However, in my diocese, you will rarely, if ever, expereince Holy Mass the way you describe (now, this thread is about Catholics Come Home – so, I am confused about why you addressed me).

    My point about CCH was not about liturgy – but about the content and implementation of CCH in most dioceses/parishes in Catholicland U.S.A.

    If I missed the point of your post – I apologize in advance. :)

    MSM

  39. benedetta says:

    Midwest: It is very curious how in some places the decision appears to be made by those in power that not only will EWTN not be promoted but people pretend as if it does not even exist. It is mentioned only under extreme duress. It appears that in some places those entrusted with teaching the faith and passing it on are running scared from EWTN and are desperate for the faithful to not tune in at all. And it’s weird because the programs are very diverse and it is a comfort for the average Catholic to be reminded that the Church is universal and not just always be about our immediate local projects. Although they will not even affirm what is solid, basic and moderate about EWTN, the converse is not also true — EWTN programs, as perhaps modeled by our Holy Father, are patient, gentle, willing to take people where they are, often reflect engagement by the laity, are diverse, include all even the littlest and most innocent among us, aim to uplift and support Catholics everywhere.

  40. AnAmericanMother says:

    Oh, no apologies necessary! :-D

    Just as you were reporting on the state of things around your neck of the woods, I was reporting on mine. I addressed you not to contradict you, but to give a possibly more cheering report from another area, so that you could see that all “Catholicland” is not in extremis.

    We’re in the Archdiocese of Atlanta as well, where the CCH is being implemented in a few days. We have heard a lot about it in the parish bulletin and in church, and we’ve received a mailing as well. Unfortunately we missed the video presentation as we were out of town (in the Diocese of Richmond VA visiting family — a notoriously “spirit of VCII” diocese but as I noted in another thread there are encouraging signs even there!) but folks seem very enthused.

  41. Midwest St. Michael says:

    AAM,

    Thank you for your replies.

    Certainly, I understand that there are some exceptions to the “norm” out here in Catholicland U.S.A. (which is what I alluded to in the last sentence of my first post).

    Praise God for them!

    However, again, these are rare exceptions. Hopefully, the “reverberations” felt by them will have some rippling effects to other parishes/dioceses.

    Oh yes, what you say about EWTN is excellent. :)

    May the Lord bless you and yours AAM,
    MSM

  42. Giambattista says:

    I’m a 43 year old cradle-Catholic and I just came back after about a year lapse. I can’t speak for why others leave, but I can speak for myself. I’ll also opine about the topic of this post, diocesesan campaigns to bring back lapsed Catholics.
    I have been disgusted for a long time with anarchy and liberalism in the Church. The handling of SP (non-handling is more accurate) by my diocese sent me over the edge. The Pope says one thing and the bishops do another. “Unity” seems to exist on paper, not in application. People who want no more than to practice the faith as it has always been practiced are (figuratively speaking) lined up against a wall and shot like they are traitors. I found myself envying all the non-Catholics I know who seem to be happy in their “ecclesial communities”. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to go to the Orthodox Church because they respect tradition. I still entertain the idea on occasion.
    In response to an effort to have SP implemented locally, I received a letter from my diocese in which I was called “disingenuous” because, I was told, I was trying to manufacture a demand for the TLM in my city (I was not manufacture anything). I was told I was “manipulating” and distorting the facts. One thing is for sure, in no other area of my life would I tolerate this type of treatment from anybody or any organization. What I have experienced over the years in this diocese is nothing less than spiritual child abuse. I question myself constantly as to why I tolerate it. The only reason I came back to the Church is because on an intellectual level, no other “faith tradition” holds water – and I have investigated them. I even tried the agnostic route (i.e. I tried to pretend I doubted the existence of God – but I never actually believed it) but it was a little disconcerting thinking that there is no power greater than myself to rely on if things begin to get ugly. In the end, being a Catholic has been the biggest cross I’ve carried to date.
    In regard to the original purpose of the post, if various dioceses are working to attract lapsed Catholics I believe, based on my own experience, that they better make the Church look attractive and welcoming. People have different temperaments. There are those who like to gather in a “worship space”, hold hands and sing kumbaya and there are those who do not (and will not). Most dioceses already have plenty of places where the first scenario can be lived out, so they don’t have to worry about that crowd – they got that demographic covered. There is not much to attract people who have a spiritual hunger for something a little deeper than Romper-Room-Catholicism, however. I believe the dioceses which are initiating these “come home” campaigns need to begin with a SERIOUS self-reflection. They need to ask themselves if they truly respect and accommodate those with “legitimate aspirations” for a traditional liturgy and piety. If not, what are they going to do about it?
    These dioceses are asking people to come home. If “home” means returning to an environment where that is unwelcoming, condescending and outright hostile to the person’s deepest convictions, it is unlikely that s/he will return.

  43. Dave N. says:

    If church statistics can be believed:
    http://www.wfn.org/2009/02/msg00203.html
    the Catholic Church in the US had a net loss of around 400,000 people in 2008 alone. Programs like this are an important form of evangelization.

  44. irishgirl says:

    Midwest St. Michael-your post @ 6:12 am was spot on!
    I grew up during the SOV2 years-but I didn’t like a lot of the things that came out of it. And I love EWTN! I can only get it on my computer, since I have no TV.
    So please-and I’m sayin’ this with a smile as I type- don’t paint all Catholics who were around at the time of the II VC with the same brush.

  45. introibo says:

    The goal of “come back home” campaigns is very good. But why limit the invite to Catholics/lapsed Catholics?

  46. Linz says:

    “running scared from EWTN”

    That’s sad. That’s just really sad.

    “Is it perfect? Far from it.”

    I don’t think anyone expects perfection this side of heaven. Now that I know the Church and love Her, I would never leave for all the crazy parishes in the world and as God is my witness, I have a clap-happy, summer-club parish (pray for the Archdiocese of LA!!!).

    But we have to consider that many people don’t yet know the faith well enough to love it unconditionally. For those who haven’t yet stumbled upon Augustine or Aquinas or Bonaventure or even Hahn and EWTN, the mass, the preaching and the attitude of at least the priests need to pick up the slack and bring a semblance of that deep spiritual and intellectual tradition to people’s lives. The levity and feel-good attitude just don’t begin to communicate the gravitas and richness of the faith.

  47. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Benedetta @ 9:08,

    *You* were the one I meant to say – “Oh yes, what you say about EWTN is excellent” – to. Sorry. I attributed that to AAM.

    irishgirl – thank you for your smile! :)

    Certainly, I would never “paint all Catholics who were around at the time of the II VC with the same brush” – no. On the contrary, I have many friends who are from that era who are still fighting in the trenches – in one way or another – to restore some semblence of Traditional Catholicism and are attempting to exorcise the SOV2. My point was about those in charge not wanting any thing orthodox, much less EWTN. I was not speaking of average lay Catholics.

    introibo,

    Excellent question!