By Katie Peterson Warner
You may have heard it said before that the second largest group of Christians in the world next to Catholics is fallen-away Catholics. Well, as Catholics passionate about bringing our lost sheep back into the fold, we at Catholics Come Home®, a non-profit media apostolate dedicated to producing and airing high-quality TV evangomercialsTM, sought to change that, and in just a few short years, more than half a million of our fallen-away brothers and sisters in Christ have returned home.
Pope John Paul II continually exhorted the Church to begin a “new evangelization.” Inspired by the Holy Father’s call, Catholics Come Home® uses creative and moving evangomercialsTM in dioceses around the country, as well as nationwide, to extend a gentle, open invitation to rediscover the Sacraments, the Mass, and the graces that come with being a part of God’s family within a parish community.
For years, our team heard powerful stories of lives changed and hearts converted, stories that poured in to us over email from returnees themselves and through inspiring feedback from diocesan partners. A desire began to rise up in our hearts; we wanted to meet these people. We wanted to say, “Welcome home” in person, and to sit down and hear about their life-changing journeys home to the Church that Jesus founded, and then to share their impactful coming home stories with others.
So after traveling around the country for several months and having dynamic, face-to-face interviews with 13 of the souls who rediscovered the beauty of their Catholic Faith, Tom Peterson, Catholics Come Home founder and president, excitedly shared the joy of meeting the people whom he helped invite home with viewers and listeners, through the memorable “Catholics Come Home” TV and radio series. Perhaps the greatest blessing of this adventure, though, was his getting to meet the people who responded to the call to return home, after seeing one simple but touching TV commercial or after visiting a welcoming website.
It’s so easy to forget that most people away from the Church are just waiting for an invite home. We often make the mistake of thinking that everyone is bitter or hostile toward the Church and that inviting them home will be difficult, beyond our pay-grade. More often than not, these lost sheep have more open hearts than we realize, and are waiting for us to extend a merciful, heartfelt invitation to experience again the love and joy of Christ through His Catholic Church.
If you have watched the series on TV or listened to it on the radio, let the stories you heard and the evangelization advice you were given not just inspire you, but move you to action. We want you – our fellow Catholics – to join us in this great privilege and responsibility of inviting inactive Catholics and others home.
Here’s what you can do now:
First of all, pray, pray, pray for the souls of those who are away. Also keep in mind that the Bible tells us how we should (and shouldn’t) share our faith:
1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence….” (Also see 2 Tim 2:24-25 and 1 Cor 13:2)
Visit CatholicsComeHome.org and explore the wealth of resources we have there to help you share your Catholic Faith with others in a charitable, inspiring way. There is a great Shop section, featuring Tom Peterson’s powerful and engaging book, Catholics Come Home: God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life, which was featured throughout the series. In it, he offers incredible stories of inspiration and hope for people in all walks of life to experience an adventure with God.
Speak candidly about your Catholic faith and become a convincing disciple of Christ’s Catholic Church. Become more comfortable sharing your own faith and living it, so as to exude Christ’s light and love in the world. For help answering questions about your faith, brush up on the Evangelization Q&A from our Catholics Come Home series, by visiting our YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/CatholicsComeHome) and viewing our CCH Q&A Segments playlist.
Encourage people to return to the sacraments – first to Confession. We serve a God of second chances…actually, a God of unlimited second chances! Refer people to our great outreach website, GoodConfession.com, and make use of it yourself, too!
Support the important work of Catholics Come Home®. We need the spiritual and financial help of faithful Catholics to invite their own brothers and sisters home. Visit our website for more details.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said, “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful, and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed.” It is time for all of us to do our part in this New Evangelization. The time for inviting Catholics home and reigniting our own faith is now. Tomorrow is too late. God is hungry for souls and has an extraordinary plan for all of our lives. Catholics are coming home to live out this adventure, and you can help continue the trend.
Katie Warner is the Manager of Communication and Evangelization for the Catholics Come Home apostolate, and is a Catholic wife, mother, author, speaker, and evangelist. She is a presenter for Symbolon and Opening the Word faith formation programs, a correspondent for the National Catholic Register, and has made multiple appearances on EWTN. Her favorite ministry work is family life, where she relishes every day that she spends loving, laughing, praying, and playing with her husband and new son.