PUT OUT INTO THE DEEP
As he addressed the youth of the world during World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro in August, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, told them to “make a mess” and bring the Gospel outside the doors of their Churches.
My hope is that the offices and agencies in our own Diocese of Brooklyn take the words of Pope Francis to heart, as they reach out to communities that might not be present at Mass in our Churches each Sunday. The Scriptures remind us not to “light a lamp and put it under a bushel.” We in the Church sometimes rely on either our own communication vehicles, or the mainstream press, to report on the good things that are happening in the life of the Church.
Recently, the Brooklyn Heights deanery came to me asking to partner with the Diocese in an inaugural advertising campaign to welcome people home to Church for Lent. After discussions with the DeSales Media Group, our diocesan communications offices, it was agreed that if parishes in that deanery raised half of the money it would cost to fund the campaign, DeSales would provide the other half of the cost. I am very encouraged by the leadership of the Brooklyn Heights deanery to go outside of the church buildings and into the streets of the Borough of Brooklyn.
As some of you may remember, back in April of 2013 we put our big toe into the world of advertising with the so-called “Original Hipster” ad campaign, which, as you may know, generated a lot of conversation. This Lent, we are initiating another campaign that will extend through the Easter season. The ads remind people of the need of participation in Reconciliation Monday of Holy Week, invite people to join us for a celebration of the Seven Last Words of Jesus at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James on Good Friday, and remind us of the reality that Christ will return again. It echoes the warmth of Pope Francis, who invites all to be with us for Easter and throughout the year.
I asked DeSales Media to organize a focus group of priests from across different ages and ethnicities of our Presbyterate to review at the ads and offer their feedback. Their counsel was invaluable as the campaign was finalized. I invite your feedback as well; you can see all of the ads at dioceseofbrooklyn.org/allfaces. Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many people ask, how do we pay for a campaign like this? Annually, a collection is taken up for the Catholic Communications Campaign, and a percentage of the proceeds are used for this kind of outreach.
As we put out into the deep this Lenten season, it is my hope that this year’s campaign continues a vigorous conversation that will echo outside the walls of the Church and into the streets of Brooklyn and Queens.