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PASTOR LETTER, PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL, AND BULLETIN ANNOUNCEMENTS SOME THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

! Most of us use LPI for our bulletins. They have set up logos and clip art to be used at your convenience for bulletin announcements. Remember, it's okay to repeat and repeat often. The same information has to be gotten out in a variety of ways in order for people to really absorb it. Try to promote this campaign each week throughout November, December, January, and February. Be creative. If you come up with a good idea, let us know and we will pass it on to other parishes. Stay in touch, stay in touch, stay in touch!

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SAMPLE PASTOR LETTER

FEAST OF THE CHRIST THE KING NOVEMBER 22, 2009

CATHOLICS COME HOME IS HERE! Dear Parishioners, As you have heard, our Diocese, in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Joliet, is beginning a massive outreach campaign to invite members of the Catholic Church who have left us for whatever reason to come home. CATHOLICS COME HOME is the name of this two-pronged outreach to fallen away Catholics. First, there will be the media campaign which runs from December 16 throughout January. On most of your television stations, you will see commercials inviting people to come back home to the Catholic Church. In just a few weeks, we will preview those commercials right here in our parish. Second, our own parish will gear up to welcome people back right here in our own faith community. This `hands on' part of the campaign will require everybody's participation. The parish will offer a program to welcome people back, but we will need you to help invite your family, friends and neighbors who have been away for a while to try out the Catholic Church again. I am very enthusiastic about this opportunity we have all been given to evangelize and proclaim how wonderful our faith truly is. The Church gets a bad rap these days and we forget how much the Church has benefitted civilization down through the years. Perhaps because of our mistakes in the past, we have become too defensive and apologetic about what we believe and stand for. Let's stand together and be proud of who and what we are, of what we have accomplished, and of what we can offer individuals in this world full of so much anxiety and chaos. You will hear much more about all this in the coming weeks. I just wanted to ask your help in advance. All of us are going to need to talk a lot more about our faith, act like the good Catholics we are, and not be afraid of inviting people back. So often I hear from people how their children do not go to Church anymore or of how their neighbors seem to be Catholic but just don't do anything about their faith. Now is the time for us to come together and tell them they are welcome in our midst. They will find a home here. We are the Catholic Church, blessed by God and ready to welcome the lost. Stand up and be proud! Stand up and be the voice of Christ to others. May God bless each one of you in this great endeavor. Sincerely yours in Christ,

The Pastor

SAMPLE PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL

(Insert into regular weekend prayers)

For those who have drifted away from the Catholic Church, that God will open their hearts to hear the invitation to come back home, we pray to the Lord...

For our parish, that as members we may provide a welcoming home for those who would like to come back home to the Catholic Church, we pray to the Lord...

That each of us will take the opportunity to invite someone who has drifted away from the Church to come back home to a family that has missed them greatly, we pray to the Lord...

That the Holy Spirit will fire our hearts and help us use the gifts given to us at Confirmation to proclaim our Catholic faith in word and action, we pray to the Lord...

That mothers and fathers whose children have drifted away from the Church may find courage and hope in the power of prayer to move the hearts of their loved ones to come back home to the Catholic faith, we pray to the Lord...

That God will give us the strength to talk about our Catholic faith publicly, at school and in the workplace, among friends and neighbors, we pray to the Lord...

BULLETIN ANNOUNCEMENTS

For the Weekend of November 7-8 32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

A CHANCE TO WELCOME THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN AWAY

Have you heard of the m assive outreach to Catholics who have drifted away from the Church that our Diocese is about to undertake? It's called CATHOLICS COME HOME. Beginning in the m iddle of Decem ber, television stations in our area will be broadcasting com m ercials about the Catholic Church encouraging those who have fallen away to com e back hom e. There are over 20 m illion Catholics who no longer practice the faith or do so sporadically. This is in addition to the 70 m illion Catholics who are m ore active. In fact, if you take the num ber of fallen away Catholics, it adds up to the second largest religion in the United States (practicing Catholics being the first). Am azing isn't it that so m any have fallen away. W e need to invite them back. This is just the first step in a program sponsored by our Diocese in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Joliet. Millions will see these com m ercials over a m onth and a half tim e period. W atching com m ercials won't be enough to bring folks back, however. Each of us as parishioners will be responsible for inviting people to try the Catholic Church again. W atch the bulletin for m ore. Or better yet. W hy wait? Invite som eone you know to com e back hom e again to the Catholic Church.

For the Weekend of November 14-15 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

SEE SOMETHING POSITIVE ABOUT THE CHURCH ON TELEVISION!

Do you rem em ber seeing those com m ercials on television by the Morm ons? They were upbeat, positive and welcom ing. They told of God's love for all. Didn't you say to yourself, "W hy can't Catholics have som ething like that?" W ell, we can and we do. Beginning in Decem ber, our Diocese is sponsoring a m edia outreach cam paign called CATHOLICS COME HOME. Television stations throughout our area will be saturated with som e very powerful com m ercials inviting fallen away Catholics to com e back hom e to the faith. You will get to see these com m ercials in advance in just a few weeks here in church. In the m eantim e, check out catholicscom ehom e.org and catholicscom ehom erockford.org for m ore inform ation. And while you are at it; take tim e this com ing Advent/Christm as season to invite som eone you know to com e back hom e to the Catholic Church.

For the Weekend of November 21-22 FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CATHOLICS COME HOME

The pastor's letter gives m any of the details of our CATHOLICS CO M E HOM E program . For m ore inform ation, check out the websites catholicscom ehom e.org and catholicscom ehom erockford.org. Also, our Diocesan newspaper, The Observer, is publishing an Advent series of m editations called ...............that gives ideas, prayers, and projects for helping us invite others to com e back hom e to the Catholic Church.

Catholics Come Home Bulletin Announcements Continued

For the Weekend of November 28-29 FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

CATHOLICS COME HOME BEGINS SOON. DID YOU KNOW...

The 20 m illion fallen away Catholics don't always fit a sm ooth profile. Most still regard them selves as Catholic and identify as such even though they don't practice the faith. Som e have left because of anger, a bad experience with a priest or a parish staff person, or perhaps a disagreem ent with Church teaching. But m any, if not m ost, have sim ply drifted. Church is just not a priority. They have no particular axe to grind, but it's sim ply not im portant to belong. Surprisingly, there are at least another 9 m illion people who fit the fallen away Catholic profile but who do not identify them selves as Catholic any longer. They are called NONES because they m ark that box on census surveys for church affiliations. There's about 34 m illion Am ericans who classify them selves as such, a quarter of which are Catholic in origin. Here's what a new survey says about them : The 34 m illion Am erican adults who don't identify with any particular religious group reflect the general population in term s of m arital status, educational attainm ent, racial and ethnic m akeup, and incom e, according to a new study by Trinity College researchers, American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population. Report Highlights The 1990s was the decade when the "secular boom " occurred - each year 1.3 m illion m ore adult Am ericans joined the ranks of the Nones. Since 2001 the annual increase has halved to 660,000 a year. W hereas Nones are presently 15% of the total adult U.S. population, 22% of Am ericans aged 18-29 years self-identify as Nones. In term s of Belonging (self-identification) 1 in 6 Am ericans is presently of No Religion, while in term s of Belief and Behavior the ratio is higher around 1 in 4. Regarding belief in the divine, m ost Nones are neither atheists nor theists but rather agnostics and deists (59%) and perhaps best described as skeptics. The m ost significant difference between the religious and non-religious populations is a gender gap. W hereas 19% of Am erican m en are Nones only 12% of Am erican wom en are Nones. The gender ratio am ong Nones is 60 m ales for every 40 fem ales. W om en are less likely to switch out of religion than m en. W om en are also less likely to stay nonreligious when they are born and raised in a non-religious fam ily. Most Nones are 1st generation - only 32% of "current" Nones report they were None at age 12. 24% of current Nones (and 35% of 1st generation or "new" Nones) are form er Catholics.

For the Weekend of December 5-6 SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

CATHOLICS COME HOME. MORE IMPORTANT FACTS...

More than one-quarter of Am erican adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion ­ or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, roughly 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, m oved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether. The survey finds that the num ber of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is m ore than double the num ber who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Am ong Am ericans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion. _ _ _ _ _ W hile those Am ericans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in num bers as a result of changes in affiliation, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes. W hile nearly one-in-three Am ericans (31% ) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe them selves as Catholic. These losses would have been even m ore pronounced were it not for the offsetting im pact of im m igration. The Landscape Survey finds that am ong the foreign-born adult population, Catholics outnum ber Protestants by nearly a two-to-one m argin (46% Catholic vs. 24% Protestant); am ong nativeborn Am ericans, on the other hand, Protestants outnum ber Catholics by an even larger m argin (55% Protestant vs. 21% Catholic).

Pew Forum On Religion And Public Life: U.S. Religious Landscape Survey: Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2008.

Catholics Come Home Bulletin Announcements Continued

For the Weekend of December 12-13 THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

CATHOLICS COME HOME. DID YOU KNOW...

A m ajor survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that m ost Am ericans have a non-dogm atic approach to faith. A strong m ajority of those who are affiliated with a religion, including m ajorities of nearly every religious tradition, do not believe their religion is the only way to salvation. And alm ost the sam e num ber believes that there is m ore than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion. This openness to a range of religious viewpoints is in line with the great diversity of religious affiliation, belief and practice that exists in the United States, as docum ented in a survey of m ore than 35,000 Am ericans that com prehensively exam ines the country's religious landscape. _ _ _ _ _ Most Am ericans agree with the statem ent that m any religions ­ not just their own ­ can lead to eternal life. Am ong those who are affiliated with a religious tradition, seven-in-ten say m any religions can lead to eternal life. This view is shared by a m ajority of adherents in nearly all religious traditions, including m ore than half of m em bers of evangelical Protestant churches (57%). Only am ong m em bers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Morm on groups (57%) and Jehovah's W itnesses (80% ), which together com prise roughly 2.4% of the U.S. adult population, do m ajorities say that their own religion is the one true faith leading life. Most Am ericans also have a non-dogm atic approach when it com es to interpreting the tenets of their own religion. For instance, m ore than two-thirds of adults affiliated with a religious tradition agree that there is m ore than one true way to interpret the teachings of their faith, a pattern that occurs in nearly all traditions. The exceptions are Morm ons and Jehovah's W itnesses, 54% and 77% of whom , respectively, say there is only one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion. _ _ _ _ _ The Landscape Survey also reveals that people who are not affiliated with a particular religious tradition do not necessarily lack religious beliefs or practices. In fact, a large portion (41%) of the unaffiliated population says religion is at least som ewhat im portant in their lives, sevenin-ten say they believe in God and m ore than a quarter (27%) say they attend religious services at least a few tim es a year.

Pew Forum On Religion And Public Life: U.S. Religious Landscape Survey: Religious Beliefs and Practices, June 2008.

For the Weekend of December 19-20 FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

CATHOLICS COME HOME. NOW THE OUTREACH BEGINS.

The Pew Research Forum has som e m ore sobering news for the Catholic Church. W hile priests experience a great am ount of work, there is a Titanic size breach in the hull of St. Peter's Barque. W hy? Catholics are fleeing the Church in record num bers. W e've been able to keep pace with the population at large only because of im m igration. Here are the facts: However, the group that has experienced the greatest net loss by far is the Catholic Church. O verall, 31.4% of U.S. adults say that they were raised Catholic. Today, however, only 23.9% of adults identify with the Catholic Church, a net loss of 7.5 percentage points. How can this decline in the percentage of Catholics be reconciled with the findings from the General Social Surveys discussed in Chapter 1 that show that roughly the sam e proportion of the population is Catholic today as was Catholic in the early 1970s? Part of the answer is that the Catholic Church has also attracted a good num ber of converts. But the m ain answer is im m igration. The m any people who have left the Catholic Church over the years have been replaced, to a great extent, by the large num ber of Catholic im m igrants com ing to the U.S. The significant effect of im m igration on the size of the U.S. Catholic population underscores the fact that while changes in affiliation are a m ajor factor contributing to the size of religious groups, they are by no m eans the only factor. In addition to im m igration, other factors ­ such as differential fertility and death rates ­ also contribute to these shifts.

Catholics Come Home Bulletin Announcements Continued

For the Weekend of December 26-27 FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

HEARTBREAK IN THE FAMILY

Did you know, that the Feast of the Holy Fam ily was the Church's response to the devastation W orld W ar I caused in Europe, particularly the destruction of fam ily life? In a very real way, it is a feast born of tragedy and speaks to us today of the hope we have to have in the m idst of the difficulties of m odern fam ily life. Many of the hidden heartbreaks in our parishes today are felt by parents suffering because their children no longer practice the faith or go to M ass. W e are in the m iddle of the m edia cam paign for the CATHOLICS COME HOME Initiative, and we m ight as well face the fact that m any of our fallen away Catholics are our own fam ily m em bers. So what do we do about that? ! Pray for them . Prayer is always the first step whenever we are in difficulty. W hen Mary and Joseph were worried about their fam ily, they turned to God in prayer. St. Monica prayed constantly that her wayward son, the future St. Augustine, would em brace the Catholic faith and turn from his sinful ways. Prayer works, but som etim es it takes tim e. Talk about the faith with your fam ily m em ber. Conversation and com m unication are so im portant in bringing som eone back to the faith. And here is what you talk about: Not how m uch you are disappointed in your loved one, but, rather, how m uch you love your C atholic faith and how m uch it has changed your life. Be a good example. Missing Mass and not living up to the standards of our Catholic faith is a sure way to be branded a hypocrite by those who have fallen away. Be proud of your Catholic faith. Don't wim p out and accept the fact that your loved one m ay attend another denom ination or another religion. "I am just glad that she/he believes in something," is not an authentic Catholic response. W e are Catholic because we believe it is the truest way to God. W e should want that for our loved ones as well. Alw ays love. Anger never brought anyone back to the Church. Only love (tough love som etim es) and com passion will open hearts that have turned away from the faith. W e m ust rem em ber, we can only invite; we can never force. In the end, conversion happens in a person's heart and it is between them and God. As the Catholic Church, our arm s are open to welcom e back the lost. By our love, we give them that opportunity.

For the Weekend of January 2-3 FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY

SEARCHING FOR GOD; FINDING HIM IN THE CHURCH

You have to hand it to the Three W ise Men; they were very insistent in finding the one true God. And they found him in Jesus, the new born Savior. W hile we adm ire their zeal, we know that there are a lot of people in this world who do not even know they need God or need a com m unity that worships the Light of the W orld. Half way through the m edia Initiative CATHOLICS COME HOME, let's ask ourselves this question, "W hat have we done in the past few weeks to reach into the heart of the non-practicing or fallen away Catholics that we know and help them realize how much they need Jesus Christ?" Rem em ber, those who have left us will tell you they love God, they just don't need the Church. Rem ind them that Jesus said, "W here two or three are gathered, there am I in the midst of them." Jesus also said, when he celebrated the Last Supper with his apostles, that he wanted his friends to celebrate that Eucharist in m em ory of him . So, our own God and Savior, Jesus Christ, says that a personal relationship with him is not enough. W e need to be in com m unity, and that com m unity is the Catholic Church. But, say our non-practicing friends, the Church is so im perfect and sinful that it is hard to find God there. That's when you rem ind them that the W ise Men traveled half way across the world and found G od hidden in a dusty, dirty town called Bethlehem in Rom an occupied Israel. The point is, som etim es you have to look beneath the grim e and dirt and see the treasure that is buried there. The Church has done so m uch m ore good than bad and we are less because our absent brothers and sisters are not with us. In the end, there is always an excuse to not search for Christ. As m uch as we want those who once practiced the faith to com e back to us, perhaps the first step is to im itate the W ise Men in search for the Face of Christ that resides in our fam ily, friends and neighbors who are away from the Catholic Church. Seeing Christ in them and bringing our gifts of welcom e, com passion and love m ay be just the thing necessary to help them see that Jesus is m ost present to the world as he shines through our wonderful Catholic Church.

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Behind the Feast of the Holy Fam ily is the sincere wish of the Church that fam ilies stay together and worship together. As we go forward with our CATHOLICS COME HOME Initiative, let's ask the Holy Fam ily ­ Jesus, Mary and Joseph ­ to bless us and our loved ones and bind us together in the Catholic faith that Jesus gave us and that we hold so dear.

Catholics Come Home Bulletin Announcements Continued

For the Weekend of February 6-7 5th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

AFTER VIEWING THE ADS NOW BECOME FISHERS FOR CHRIST

W ell, the com m ercials are history and lots of people, Catholics and non-Catholics, saw them . Most liked them . But will people do anything with what they have seen? W ill non-practicing Catholics com e back? Som e already have. W ill practicing Catholics be energized? Evidence says yes. But really, if you com pare our CATHOLICS COME HOME Initiative with fishing, those com m ercials were just the bait. Tossing food into the waters just feeds the fish; it doesn't catch anything. The next step is to be what Christ asked the apostles to be; nam ely, fishers of m en. W e've got to reach out to those who have been fed by the com m ercials and ask them to respond to the call. W e, who are practicing Catholics, have to get involved. And it's not as hard as it seem s. W hy? Because we know m ost of these non-practicing Catholics. All we have to do is issue a personal invitation and an offer to accom pany them . Ash W ednesday, February 17 this year, is a special invitation for those who have been away to com e hom e to Christ and the Church. It's a natural day to invite those who m ay have been away to stop by again. Please take the tim e to invite som eone, and not just invite, but offer to go with them to church on Ash W ednesday. Don't forget to tell people about the follow-up program Catholics Returning Hom e. That's starting in our parish during the First W eek of Lent. It's a six week session m eant to help those returning deal with issues and reintegrate sm oothly into parish life. Being fishers for Christ isn't that difficult, but it does take som e concrete action. W hat have you done to bring hom e one of our absent brothers and sisters? There's still tim e to do so m uch.

For the Weekend of February 13-14 6th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

LENT IS COMING... EXTEND AN INVITATION TO COME BACK HOME TO CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH

Do you know what people really worry about, so m uch so, that they just push it out of their conscious m inds? They worry about what happens to them after they die. It takes real faith to believe that life goes on after death. It's a faith that no individual can conjure up by him self or herself. They need a tradition, a way of believing, a religion that can give them the context for such a belief. That's where our Catholic faith com es in. Catholicism has been so successful because it answers basic questions about life after death with a logic and evidence that has convinced billions of believers. W e really believe that when Christ died and rose, he broke the chains of death and allowed us to live forever with him in glory with bodies and souls intact. How does a person who no longer has a religion or doesn't attend a church keep that faith strong? It's pretty difficult, and when bad things happen, those people are alone. Think about it. W e have people in our area who once belonged to us and, for the m ost part, they are alone now, facing life as it com es without a parish com m unity to help them . This whole CATHOLICS COME HOME Initiative isn't just som e public relations cam paign to m ake us feel good about ourselves. It's about bringing our faith fam ily back together again. In just a few days, on Ash W ednesday, we begin the Season of Lent. This Ash W ednesday is a special one, inviting everybody, especially those who have not been with us for awhile, to com e back to Christ and the Church. There's too m uch worry and loneliness out there. Many think they won't be welcom ed back. All we have to do is extend a hand, m ake an invitation, and be there for those people. Can we do that? W ill we do that? W e know there is an eternity of joy for those who believe in Christ and com e together as a Church to worship him and follow his teachings. Our Catholic faith can't m ake everything perfect, but it gives us the strength to face the doubts and darkness that com e with life. This Lent, please reach out and personally invite som eone to com e back to Christ and the Church. You can do it. You are the hands, the eyes, the voice, the very face of Jesus Christ to som eone who has been gone from us for awhile. Invite them back. Make our faith fam ily whole again.

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