I spoke with Tom Peterson the founder of “Catholics Come Home” about the horrid attack leveled against “Catholics Come Home” by HBO Talk Show Host Bill Maher on his television program. Maher had seen one of the commercials of “Catholics Come Home” and decided to reach into the pits of hell and attack the whole Catholic Church.
It is not surprising that Bill Maher saw these fantastic commercials, they are showing up everywhere. That is because Tom, who refers to himself as an “advertising guy…simple and not a scholar” has built Catholics Come Home into something unlike anything else happening in the Catholic Church today.
Like the little boy with the loaves and the fish in the Gospel encounter of the miracle multiplication of the loaves and the fish he has offered what he had and the miracle continues. This “advertising guy” is utilizing the best quality offered by the media to reach real people with the real hope they need in an age that has lost its soul.
“Catholics Come Home” is already cooperating with thirty Dioceses and Archdioceses, the most recent of which is my childhood home of Boston, Massachusetts being led by the Franciscan Archbishop, Sean Cardinal O’Malley. What has happened in Boston is happening everywhere they air. Mass attendance has increased an average of 10 percent, and as much as 18 percent. The ads and the interactive website have reached 40 million viewers across the US and 1.5 million viewers worldwide in the past three years. According to census statistics published by participating dioceses, “Catholics Come Home” ads have helped more than 200,000 fallen away Catholics come home to the Church.
Now back to Bill Maher’s attack. In his rabid rant against the commercial and the Catholic Church he failed to do his due diligence. He thought the commercial was produced by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. It wasn’t. It was done by a nonprofit effort led by a layman trying to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as found in its fullness in the Catholic Church. Maher said in a three minute segment on his HBO show that “the Catholic Church had made an ad” which was “slick, like a Superbowl commercial.” Then, he offered his own profane, virulently anti-Catholic harangue. He made his own mocking commercial, making it look like one of these beautiful commercials. It was offensive, bigoted, slanderous, disgusting, and yes, downright diabolical.
“Catholics Come Home” responded that “Bill Maher continues to rant against all things Catholic, in an effort to “crucify” the Catholic Church by holding it up to continual ridicule and scorn. Maher inaccurately claims that the “Catholic Church made these ads.” False. The hierarchy of the Church did not produce these ads, CatholicsComeHome.org did. The television and website advertisements accessible at “Catholics Come Home” were created and are supported by a group of Catholic families and individuals inspired by Pope John Paul II’s call for a New Evangelization.”
In the course of my conversation with Tom Peters I was moved by the authenticity of this man. I was also amazed at the impact of this media apostolate. He rattled of story after story and statistic after statistic which confirm that, in his words, “people are coming back (to the Church) in droves.” As we spoke I asked him what motivated him to leave his advertising career and undertake this work. He told me that years ago he began to realize that we all have a “homing device” within us, fashioned by the One who created us out of love and for love. He knew back then that his task was to help “love more souls into heaven.”
As the conversation continued I told Tom that in my experience over decades of helping people find the Lord, who alone can fill that hole in their soul, or come home to the Catholic Church which He founded, I have learned that many like Bill Maher who have such a strong animosity toward the Lord and His Church are often fighting His irresistible call to come home themselves. In fact, the more strident ones are often the closest to putting down their resistance and succumbing to the Lords loving invitation of grace.
Sure enough, my research showed me that Bill Maher professes to having been raised as a Catholic. That means he has been Baptized. There is grace given in that gateway Sacrament of Christ’s Church. I suggested to Tom that he consider inviting Bill Maher to “Come Home” to the Church which he has attempted to tear down. His response was predictable, given his sincere faith and warm heart, and wonderful. “Of course” he said, “Bill Maher, Come Home!”
Tom Peterson and I discussed the possibility that this angry son of the Catholic Church, Bill Maher, who has now turned his talents against the truth and against the Lord who loves Him, might return home to the Church into which he was baptized. That is when I decided to turn the injustice committed by Bill Maher against “Catholics Come Home” – and against the Catholic Church – into the beginning of a new campaign of prayer. The campaign is called “Bill Maher Come Home”. I invite you to join this effort.
I invite you to pray with me for Bill Maher for the remainder of Lent and throughout Holy Week. Flood the heavens with requests for the Holy Spirit to break through his anger, heal any pain from the past, open his eyes to the truths of the faith and bring him back to the One whose grace was given to him years ago at the waters of the Baptismal Fount. I know that this is not only possible, but that greater things have happened in the 2,000 year history of the Church.
For any of my Catholic by Choice readers who have not seen a “Catholics Come Home” commercial, you need to stop reading, right now and click on their outstanding interactive web site here. Look around. Watch these commercials. Read about this wonderful work. Be encouraged… and learn to feel good again about being a Catholic Christian. But don’t stop there! Respond to one or more of the wonderful opportunities offered on this virtual media apostolate site to join in their mission.