Cardinal Sean has designated today “Evangelization Sunday,” when Catholics throughout the archdiocese are hearing about the launch of the “Catholics Come Home” program.
The Boston Globe covered it in their article, “Archdiocese campaign targets once-faithful,” where they quoted Cardinal Sean saying, “Every Catholic can be a minister of welcome, reconciliation, and understanding to those who have stopped coming to Church.”
According to this article in The Pilot, “The first ever Evangelization Sunday will be celebrated in the archdiocese Jan. 23 as an effort to introduce churchgoers to Catholics Come Home, a nationwide program the archdiocese is launching over the coming months to bring lapsed Catholics back to Mass and the practice of the faith.”
Here is a video of Cardinal Sean’s homily, which he asked to have played in all parishes in the archdiocese today.
Here are some excerpts from The Pilot article:
Archdiocese of Boston Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization Janet Benestad said Evangelization Sunday is a chance for Cardinal O’Malley to “invite Catholics in the archdiocese to reflect on people they know who have fallen away from the Church and invite them back.”
Nationally, the Catholics Come Home program has been running in eight dioceses and resulted in an increase in weekly Mass attendance. The Diocese of Phoenix saw a 12 percent increase (about 92,000 people) as a result of the program, and in the same span, the area had a roughly zero population growth. The Diocese of Corpus Christi saw a nearly 18 percent increase.”
Catholic officials will be launching the Boston version in an archdiocese where weekly Mass attendance is at 17 percent. New England is the most unchurched region in the United States, according to a Gallup poll released in February 2010. The poll revealed that only 29 percent of Massachusetts residents attend a church or synagogue weekly.
Benestad did not give a quantifiable goal that the archdiocese would like to reach to label the initiative as a success.
“For us, a success would be that people return to our parishes,” she said. “In the Northeast, so many people are Catholic.” .
Though we wish the archdiocese would do a better job of practicing what they are supposed to be preaching and take more dramatic steps to model a Christ-like evangelical culture starting at 66 Brooks Drive, it is still very good to see that the archdiocese is taking at least some steps to promote evangelization and reverse the steady decline in Mass attendance. We also think it is a good idea for faithful Catholics to always be inviting friends or family members back to the Catholic Church.
The initiative relies heavily on television and radio ads, which are not inexpensive, and apparently the initiative has only a few hundred thousand dollars to support those ads, which gets burned through very quickly in a major metropolitan area like Boston. The sooner they tackle the program we outlined to save $2 million annually by chopping back the excessive six-figure salaries and ending the so-called “vigils” at closed churches, the more funds they will available to fund evangelization and advancing the mission of the Catholic Church in Boston. (How is that new Compensation Committee doing anyway?)
All cynicism aside–if you can believe that is possible from BCI–bringing people back to the Catholic Church is about salvation of souls and helping people get to heaven. So do not do it just because Cardinal Sean asks you to. Rather, if each person reading this blog invites just two people they know back to Church, you could be a catalyst for them to turn from darkness and come to see the light of Christ. Who knows, maybe you will play a role in God’s plan for the salvation of their soul, and yours as well!