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The Deacon's Bench

And the attention-grabbing ad campaign of Catholics Come Home may be responsible for luring some people back to the pews in at least one big diocese.

Details:

Eight months ago, the Diocese of Green Bay began airing television commercials for six weeks that invited Catholics to Come Home. This month, the diocese released survey findings that show Mass attendance increased an average of 7.4 percent after the commercials began to air.

In addition, more than 95 percent of parish leaders and parishioners reported that CCH had a positive influence on their lives.

Kristina DeNeve, director of spirituality and evangelization for the diocese and coordinator of the CCH initiative, released a summary of findings to parishes last week. In an interview, DeNeve said she was happy with the results, which offered some surprises.

“Probably the biggest, and most pleasant surprise associated with the surveys was the large number of people who actually began talking to other people once these commercials came out,” she said. “Over 55 percent of respondents said they talked more about faith matters either in public places or in private with friends and family.”

The CCH evaluation used four methods to reach its findings: A parish Mass attendance census taken in 96 percent of diocesan parishes; an online survey completed by 354 people; feedback from parish leaders during CCH gratitude dinners; and random calls to 20 percent of diocesan parishes. “This gave us both specific and general feedback, both verbally and in quantifiable ways, from people ranging from pastors to ordinary people in the pews,” said DeNeve.

The Mass attendance census used figures taken in October 2009 and figures taken two weekends in April 2010. DeNeve noted that first Communions were held at 75 of the churches in April, which could have affected the statistical results.

She also noted that some parishes reported not seeing a change in attendance. “Some of our smaller parishes may have only had one or two more people come for the sacraments, which may not seem like a lot,” she explained. “And large parishes that have over 500 people at Mass may not even notice if there are 25 or 35 more people attending Mass that day. The program was a great success, but that does not mean our Masses became standing-room-only events.”

Read on for the rest.

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