Archdiocese of Chicago

Catholic Chicago Blog

Monday, March 01, 2010

Catholics Come Home

By Nancy Polacek

You may have seen experiences of speed and excitement while watching skiing events in the winter Olympics, but that is nothing compared to what’s been going on in the Office for Evangelization in the last 8 months!

It was mid summer when three dioceses (Chicago, Joliet and Rockford) began coordinating on an evangelization initiative called Catholics Come Home.  The plan was to air 2,000 television ads in 3 languages over 10 stations in 5 ½ weeks beginning December 16 inviting Catholics to return to the practice of the faith.  During the Fall our staff held training sessions for over 320 Parish Contacts, informational meetings for 650 parish receptionists and dozens of presentations at Parish and Deanery meetings throughout the Archdiocese, and we started our website.

During Advent, the phone calls and e-mails began coming in.  Throughout January and February we have heard from many people who have come home to the Catholic Church.  Each person brings with him/her a story of a difficult time in their lives though the outcome of their return is always a sense of peace and joy. 

Now it’s March and Catholics Come Home Chicago keeps going and going and … 

The TV ads were just the invitation, now the parishes and the Archdiocese are guiding those that are returning to full participation in the life of the Church.  Priests continue to hear confessions of those who have returned.  During Lent many parishes are sponsoring events to help returning Catholics know their faith better through a 6-week series called HOMECOMING.  After Easter there will be 10 presentations by the Tribunal called Understanding Annulment to help returning Catholics with the challenges that come with divorce.

We should be handing out gold medals to the parishes that put up banners, sent out postcards, created “goodie bags,” and went door to door to invite people back to the Church.  The ads may be over now, but evangelization will continue for a long time with the excitement that comes from using modern media as a way to invite everyone in our family of faith to come home.


Friday, March 05, 2010 5:39 PM

Ms Polacek (Got it right this time sorry for the fat finger mistake on my first post)

Thanks for the response I took the survey. And again thanks for the wonderful work you have done with this program

Thomas S.

Thursday, March 04, 2010 3:22 PM

Great minds think alike! The Office for Evangelization is finalizing a survey to each parish that will ask specific questions about all aspects of Catholics Come Home. We will collect this data in order to evaluate the impact of this evangelization initiative. If you want to take a short survey about the TV ads only go to and click on "brief online survey"

Nancy Polacek

Thursday, March 04, 2010 2:33 PM

Ms. Pojacek,

This is a great article and very thoughtful post. I was wondering if there were any statistics saying how successful the "Catholic's Come Home Campaign" has been, and if there has been any discussion of continuing the advertisements. They were very well done and really put the Church in a great light. Thanks again for a wonderful article.

Thomas S.

Thursday, March 04, 2010 9:37 AM

Thanks Nancy for your thoughtful comment. Actually, I've been a Field Advocate for the Metropolitan Marriage Trubunal (where Annulment cases are handled) and I love my work. My colleagues have done an outstanding job in this very pastorally challenging ministry. But, it's funny how things most always come full circle. My very own step-mother who was away from the church for a very long time because she was trepidatious about having to go through the Annulment process. Even with my trying to encourage her, she just couldn't do it. All of a sudden, she gets word that her first husband passed away... and suddenly the flood gates opened...... and after much teary-eyed reflection, she realized that she was now able to marry my father in the Catholic Church... I say this because so many people do not understand the Annulment process, or are deathly afraid of it, so I am delighted when my colleagues in the Marriage Tibunal and Family Ministry have seminars and presentations on this most important ministry.. For sure, it is a ministry of healing!!!!!!!!!!! God Bless you!

Carol B.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010 12:34 PM

Thanks for your comments. You make a great point...evangelization is the responsibility of every Catholic. With so many ads on TV, it was easy for us to talk about our faith with friends and co-workers in public places. Hopefully, we created a new pattern of behavior and we will continue to speak openly about our faith and welcome others to join us.
If you want to see the schedule of locations for the Understanding Annulment presentations, go to the website and find that title in the box on the left "Learn More About the Catholic Faith."

Nancy Polacek

Monday, March 01, 2010 3:51 PM

Hi Nancy! I was very priveleged to have met you at one of the luncheons you hosted. You did a fine job! I feel that the Office for Evangelization needs to make sure that this initiative does not die, but rather it needs to be expounded on. What about asking each practicing and Sunday Mass going Catholic to attempt to bring one person--just one--to Mass? or to the RCIA classes in the Fall or to Confession? or to volunteer at a convent of elderly and infirm Religious or visit a retirement community of priests, sisters and lay people? In each of these venues exists the Holy Spirit in a very powerful way and a chance for the person to feel the saving power of God..... gently and lovingly....It's a great blessing to reflect on the fact that even if there is only one person enrolled in an RCIA program who makes it to the Easter vigil---is reason for all of Heaven to shout with all starts with the number one.... And I'm also very pleased at what the Marriage Tribunal is doing to educate people on the process of Annulment. Good Job Nancy! God Bless you and may you have a very fruitful Lent!!

Carol B.