SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - You could describe the Catholic church as historic, unwavering and now, cutting edge.
Through the Catholics Come Come campaign, the church has embraced television advertising and the internet to bring non-practicing Catholics back into the embrace of the church.
And they're doing so as a strategy, a vocation and a duty.
"I think it's wonderful because the church does remind us to use that type of technology,'' said Father Jeremiah McCarthy, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Savannah. "I think many of the young people are into that. How else can we reach people?''
"Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, said recently, we have got to use this liturgy,'' added Father Dan Firmin, of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. "We must use all these means to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.''
The campaign will be rolled out in different cities across the country with polished, highly produced ads. But the means matter less than the message.
"I like Catholics Come Home,'' said Bishop J. Kevin Boland of the Catholic Diocese of Savannah. "I like to use that imagery that the father goes out to meet them, runs out to meet the prodigal coming home, puts a cape on his shoulder and says, come on, we'll have a meal. That enriches all of us.''
And while the hope is that having people return to the religion they were raised in enriches lives, the church and everyone in it share a mutual benefit with every catholic that comes home.
"It nourishes the family,'' said Bishop Boland. "You know what happens when there's resolution, when there's forgiveness and the prodigal son comes home.''
"We're lesser when our family members aren't with us,'' added Father Firmin. "We miss them. And so to have them with us around the table of our lord to have them beside us in the pew, makes the life of the church so much fuller, the life of our family so much better.''
Catholics come home is perhaps only the start to achieving that.
"We always remind people that the most important contact is personal contact,'' said Father McCarthy. "You can see something on television and it can strike you as beautiful, but I think people will be much more impressed by the example of Tim or John or Mary, how they practice their faith and live their faith.''
But the campaign is also a start in a new direction for the church.
"Magazines, journals, we had that, tomes of theology,'' said Father Firmin. "Then all of a sudden these great means of communication grew up. It's a wonderful opportunity, a wonderful program and initiative to be able to tell our story and to bring that story out beyond the walls of the church.''