Diocese Invites Catholics Back to Mass
Join us for Mass every Sunday
February 16, 2023
DIOCESE—Church attendance is a concern felt around the world in almost every faith denomination. And, according to statistics from almost every study, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem of getting people to church and now back to church.
“People got used to staying home,” said Kevin Fuss, director of Research and Planning for the Rockford Diocese. 
Now that vaccines are readily available and community spread of COVID in the U.S. is at an all-time low, it’s safe to go out.
Lent Begins Feb. 22
The season of Lent begins on Feb. 22 with Ash Wednesday, which is not a holy day of obligation.
The season of Lent calls us as Catholics to prepare ourselves for the paschal mystery: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
The season runs until sundown on Holy Thursday, which then begins the Triduum. Easter Sunday is April 9.
Inside this issue, find Lenten events at parishes around the diocese on pages 4 and 5; a Lenten reflection about mercy by Father Jhakson Garcia, parochial vicar of Church of Holy Apostles in McHenry; the first of The Observer’s annual Lenten meatless recipes; and guidelines for fasting and abstinence. March 17 will mark a day of dispensation from abstinence. 
And the Diocese of Rockford and all its priests and parishes want to invite Catholics back to the joy of celebrating Mass in-person.
“Getting an invitation is always a special thing. It lets us know something special is happening,” said Penny Wiegert, director of Communication. “Mass is always a special event and we want everyone to know they are invited,” she said.
That is the idea behind the new media campaign inviting Catholics back to Mass especially as we begin the Lenten and Easter season.
“Just like our diocesan Be Reconciled Program which invites Catholics to the sacrament of reconciliation, we want Catholics to know they are welcome, they are important to God and to all of their brothers and sisters in Christ,” Wiegert said. 
Bishop David Malloy and the priests of the diocese have been concerned for some months about the reluctance of people to come back to the public celebration of Mass, and that is how the media campaign idea was born. 
“We just want Catholics to know that they need to receive the graces of coming to Mass and that we want them with us. Especially in this time when the Church in the U.S. is focusing on a Eucharistic Revival, we want people, together with the support of their fellow Catholics, to hear the message of Christ in our Gospel messages and receive Him worthily in the Eucharist. None of us can expect to continue to grow in strength and love for God without regularly being nourished through the Word and the Body of Christ,” Bishop Malloy said. “The purpose of this campaign, like Be Reconciled, is to help people grow and stay close to Christ,” he added.
Because of this, a message of invitation will be issued through television, radio, and social media ads. 
The 30 second ad reads, “Got plans this Sunday? / You are invited to come back home to a Catholic Church near you. / Come, rediscover your Catholic faith at Mass every Sunday. / Come home for a meaningful Lent and stay for the joy of Easter and beyond! / Jesus is waiting for you — and so are we. / To find a Catholic parish family near you — go to rockforddiocese.org / We look forward to seeing you!”
The video message can also be viewed on the Diocese of Rockford website and Facebook page. 
More ideas on returning to church and Lenten practices can be found in this issue in Bishop Malloy’s column on page 2 and inside on pages 4, 5 and 9. 
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