Yesterday began the Diocese of Providence’s high profile and very professional media outreach program called “Catholics Come Home.” These television ads will appear 1113 times and reach 98% of Rhode Islanders an average of 26 times. The aim of the media campaign is to speak directly to inactive Catholics, inviting them to return to the Church. Considering 73% of self-identified Catholics are not regular participants at the Holy Mass, this is a large target audience. The experience of this program across the country has achieved great success, bringing thousands back into the fold. In October Bishop Tobin kicked off a “Year of Evangelization” with an Evangelization Congress at Providence College. The focus of the congress was outreach and preparing parishes for welcoming the anticipated great numbers of people targeted by the media campaign.
On the Second Sunday of Advent Bishop Tobin requested that his pastoral letter on The Year of Evangelization be read from the pulpit of every church in the diocese–first request of this kind in his five years in Providence. “The fact that I’m doing so today indicates the importance of a new initiative in the Diocese – namely, our Year of Evangelization.”
“There are moments in history that call for a renewed emphasis on evangelization, and I am convinced that we are currently living in one of those moments. Because of the internal challenges the Church has faced in recent years, and because we live in a very secular, even atheistic age – an age “without God” – the Church has both an urgent need and a special opportunity to strengthen our faith and to share it with others.”
In the letter the bishop indicated three purposes for the Year of Evangelization:
- Renew our personal enthusiasm about, and commitment to, our Catholic Faith.
- Reach out to those many, many Catholics who have drifted away and no longer practice the faith.
- Invite the “unchurched” to visit and learn more about the Catholic Faith.
and three recommended ways of participation:
- Participate in the many events planned throughout the Year of Evangelization, increase the diocese’s outreach and sincerely welcome those returning to or those drawn to the Catholic Faith.
- Become a “personal evangelist” by identifying at least one person, perhaps a family member or neighbor and invite them to return or come to church a first time.
- This work, like every work of the Church, is a combination of the human and the divine, therefore pray fervently for the success of our Year for Evangelization.