Archdiocese Distributes 111K Books at Christmas
As part of its “A.C.E.” Project (Advent, Christmas, Easter) the Archdiocese of Cincinnati gave away 111,000 copies of a book at Christmas Masses.
The book, Rediscover Catholicism by lay apologist Matthew Kelly, is part of a parish book program created by the author for his Dynamic Catholic Institute. The Archdiocese is the third diocese to distribute it to all households.
“The books are a simple, practical, and tangible evangelization tool,” says Michael Vanderburgh, Director of Stewardship for the Archdiocese. “They fit hand and glove with the Catholics Come Home program.”
Catholics Come Home (CCH) creates television and radio commercials inviting people who have drifted away from the Church to “come home.” Airing those commercials through the Christmas season was the other half of the A.C.E. project. Both halves, Vanderburgh says, were paid for by donations — several large donations from people who wanted to fund a major evangelization project, and many smaller donations from Catholics throughout the Archdiocese.
The donations were important, Vanderburgh says, because they demonstrated even before the project began that area Catholics supported it. “It’s one thing to have a great idea about what we should do, and another thing to have widespread support for an idea,” he says. “From the beginning discussions, widespread involvement was a main goal.”
The Dynamic Catholic Book Program devised by Matthew Kelly is a simple way for parishes to evangelize using popular Catholic books. When parishes adopt the program, they buy books for all their parishioners (titles include Made for More by Curtis Martin, Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft, and Confessions of a Megachurch Pastor by Allen Hunt) at $2 to $3 per copy, then hold book discussions and other events or classes. Reading two Catholic books a year, the program’s web site says, doubles the Catholic material most American Catholics read every year.
The copies of Rediscover Catholicism distributed by the Archdiocese were specially printed with a one-page letter from Archbishop Dennis Schnurr. “I offer you this book as my Christmas gift to you and your family,” the letter says. “As you read and share it, may you find new inspiration to know better and proclaim widely the Good New the world so desperately needs to hear.”
Cincinnati, the Diocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, and the Diocese of Ft. Wayne are the only dioceses that have distributed one of the Dynamic Catholics books. Matthew Kelly hopes there will be many more. “People need to be inspired,” he says, “and I think the many efforts of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati this Christmas ,and throughout this Year of Faith, are going to inspire many people to give Catholicism another look… and that is a beautiful thing.”
Although the book’s contents are valuable, Vanderburgh says the books teach an important lesson even if people never read them. “Giving them away tells people, ‘My faith is important, I should pay attention to it, I should go to Mass,’” he says.
That messages is a vital one to both halves of the A.C.E. Project. While inviting Catholics back to the Church is important, Vanderburgh says, so is re-energizing Catholics who never left. “The project’s long-term success is based on generating renewed excitement among the already engaged faithful,” he says. “They are the primary spokespeople for the faith in their families and communities. They are the ambassadors.”
Photo courtesy stock.xchng.
Tomorrow: Many parishes are holding book discussions or classes around Rediscover Catholicism — and the Archdiocese is also holding an online book discussion for anyone with a computer.
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