Archbishop invites Catholics to come home

LISA JOHNSTON | lisajohnston@stlouisreview.com
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Come home to the Church, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said at a Dec. 9 press conference announcing the kick off of the Catholics Come Home initiative in the St. Louis Archdiocese.

"Our Gospel responsibility is to proclaim the Good News," the archbishop said at the press conference, held at the Catholic Education Center in the Central West End.

The archbishop was giving an official, public introduction to the Catholics Come Home initiative, the campaign of inspiring television commercials to air on stations throughout the archdiocese Dec. 16-Jan. 22. Most Catholics throughout the 11-county archdiocese are already aware of the effort, through articles in the St. Louis Review, information provided at parishes and other archdiocesan sources.

In fact, local Catholics are paying for the initiative, which is provided through a partnership with Catholics Come Home®, an individual, independent Catholic lay apostolate.

"I'm representing thousands of people in the archdiocese who are financing this initiative" Archbishop Carlson said. "Why are we doing this?" he asked. Because it is the mission given to us 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ, he said, referring to the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28. "We are all called to be evangelizers."

Preparation has been under way at parishes for some timeto welcome people back, Archbishop Carlson said. "People who want to come home to the Catholic Church will be welcomed in all our 189 parishes." He emphasized the importance of being welcoming. "People who go to church make the decision whether they will continue to attend in the first 10 minutes."

Msgr. Mark Rivituso, vicar general of the archdiocese and chairman of the local Catholics Come Home initiative, said the initiative has had great success in other dioceses, resulting in an average increase of 10 percent in weekly Mass attendance.

Several of the commercials were aired at the press conference. Msgr. Rivituso said the format of the initiative, through TV commercials, was chosen "because we want to meet people where they are," and the average American watches 38 hours of media, including television and Internet, a week. "The media is a wonderful tool for evangelization"

Archbishop Carlson asked all Catholics "to pray for this effort, which is God's work."

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