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Area residents by now may have noticed the advertisements airing on television encouraging inactive Catholics to return to the church through the Catholics Come Home program. The city's three parishes, Queen of the World, Sacred Heart and St. Mary's, are all participating in the initiative throughout Lent.
According to Fr. Michael Ferrick, pastor of Queen of the World Parish, the commercials first began running on Ash Wednesday and will continue until Easter.
"My experience is there are a lot of people who have the desire to come back but don't know how to, whether they're in an invalid marriage, divorced, [have a different] sexual orientation, or if they've just been away too long. They think they don't know how to get back to the church and the Catholics Come Home program is just a way of the church saying, 'No matter what the issues are, you can come home,'" Ferrick said.
Ferrick noted that people tend to hear a lot of misinformation about church issues, and the Catholics Come Home program helps to provide them with the correct information.
Addressing the reasons why people leave the church and helping them undertake the effort to return is a particular challenge because each person's situation is unique, Ferrick said.
"You can't just give a broad speech and think it's going to cover everyone's situation because everyone's situation is so different. To address every situation, you almost have to do it individually. You can't just do it through one talk or one advertisement," Ferrick said.
He added that how a person chooses to come back to the church also varies.
He noted that on Thursday evening he will be holding an information night at 7 p.m. in the Queen of the World cafeteria, where he will discuss some of the issues that lead to people moving away from their faith and the church.
"There's no situation that should prevent us from practicing our faith," Ferrick said. "There's some things that we may have to do to correct a situation, but there's nothing that should make anyone think they're not welcomed in the church."