A new 13-episode series featuring Catholics across the United States and Canada who have returned or converted to the Catholic Church has connections to the Diocese of Phoenix.
Its creator is Tom Peterson, a one-time St. Anne parishioner who had his faith reignited during a parish men’s retreat. He went on to establish the media apostolate Catholics Come Home, which launched a TV series by the same name Aug. 31 on EWTN.[quote_box_right]
The 13-episode television series airs Sundays at 3 p.m. with encores Thursdays at 7 p.m. on EWTN and is live-streamed online. DVDs will be available.
The series is streamed online with encore airings Sundays at 3 p.m. and Thursdays at 7 p.m. Each 30-minute episode features an interview with a Catholic — newly baptized or fallen-away — who credited the influence of Catholics Come Home “evangomericals” on major television networks.
They’ve aired in 37 archdioceses and dioceses in the past six years, plus four times nationally and helped roughly half a million people return to the Church. Devin Jones was one of those people.
She grew up in the Diocese of Phoenix and was part of the Church until the news of the priest scandal. It reminded her too much of her painful past. Jones was abused as a child by her stepfather.
One day she found herself back at church — St. Timothy Parish in Mesa — attending the funeral of a friend’s grandmother. She recalled seeing the Catholics Come Home commercials on television in 2008 and noticed related banners at church. Those simple encounters put Jones on the path back to the Church via the confessional.
The “Catholics Come Home” episode she is featured in airs 3 p.m. Sept. 28 with an encore broadcast 7 p.m. Oct. 2.
Other testimonies come from agnostics, atheists and converts. They’re a linguistics teacher, restaurant owner, college student, one-time hermit who dabbled in the occult, former drug dealer and divorcee. Some hadn’t thought about God in over a decade, if not more.
Peterson said an event or period of hurt, sadness or distraction was a common thread in all of their testimonies. They began to wander and the Catholics Come Home commercials were the planted seed that brought them into the fullness of the Church.
“They never felt so loved in all of their lives as they do now,” Peterson said, “and they all feel God’s embracing love as well as the nonjudgmental love of their parish community.”
Some didn’t know much about the faith until they saw the Catholics Come Home commercials and began to learn more via its companion website and local parish. Harrison Garlick, one of the converts featured in the series, felt a stirring in his heart and began attending the Latin Mass with a friend. He ultimately left a Protestant university and enrolled at Ave Maria University. He’s now in law school and has a wife and child.
“Our 13 guests couldn’t have been more appropriate, more diverse and more interesting,” Peterson said.
The “Catholics Come Home” television series is not just a 30-minute testimony though. Each episode — filmed in the subject’s home diocese and other key locations — also features engaging segments on the New Evangelization because the series is in the same vein as the evangomercials and media-friendly website.
“It’s to encourage current Catholics: look what can happen in a minute,” Peterson said, referring to the 60-second ads and web videos. “Go and do it too.”
Peterson said his lifelong mission is to bring more souls to Christ and love each one to heaven. It’s a message viewers will also receive at the end of each episode. They end with sounds from “Love Somebody to Heaven,” a song by Tempe Catholic Chris Muglia.
Catholics Come Home is currently researching and collecting testimonies for a potential second season of the series.