FORMER Test cricketer Matthew Hayden is going into bat again – this time opening for a major advertising campaign calling all Catholics to come to church.
The campaign will run across South East Queensland early next year and is pitched middle stump at “baptised but not practising” Catholics.
Recent census figures show only about eight to 10 per cent of more than 700,000 people across the Archdiocese of Brisbane who identify as Catholic, actually come to Mass.
The endorsement of the swashbuckling former Test opener will appeal to one of the campaign’s prime target audiences – men aged 35 to 54 – with Mr Hayden sharing his own journey back to faith.
“As the Church in Brisbane, we want to do everything we can to reach those who don’t join us for worship,” Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge wrote in a letter sent to all parishes and church communities last week.
“To this end, early in 2021 the archdiocese will be launching a large-scale campaign to invite all baptised Catholics to discover the deeper meaning of their baptism.”
The campaign will start with an advertising blitz in the Brisbane Times, on popular radio station Triple M, in Westfield shopping centres, and online and social media platforms.
Matthew Hayden will feature on billboards, video clips and interviews.
The campaign will also feature Brisbane Catholics Grant Gelderbloem and Vanessa Comninos – part of a strategy to reach multiple target audiences including professional working women.
Evangelisation Brisbane executive director Deacon Peter Pellicaan said middle-aged men made up the fastest-declining group in the Church.
“They are typically parents, they are not engaged in faith, they are probably engaged in sport,” Deacon Pellicaan said.
“They can be pretty busy, trying to survive, pay a mortgage, get the kids fed and to bed.”
Deacon Pellicaan said another prime target audience were “multicultural females – who have come from overseas, had faith but are now not engaged in their faith”.
He said the campaign had taken most of 2020 to develop and fine-tune, and aimed to answer the needs of baptised, but not practising Catholics and help them engage in faith.
“Our hope in the first instance is to attract them (non-practising Catholics) with our big and broad advertising campaign – to send them to our website that we are developing that provides them with a resource of 30 days of reflections that basically unpack what their baptism means,” Deacon Pellicaan said.
“And that resource can be sent in the mail or sent as daily reflections in your inbox.
“We are doing a podcast for it as well.”
The next key component of the campaign is an online 10-session adult formation course prepared by Evangelisation Brisbane adult formation associate director Shane Dwyer.
“The intent is to have a collection of video presentations in a Tedx Talks-style that can be watched in a small group setting or even with someone who you can have a chat with at the end,” Deacon Pellicaan said.
“We are acutely aware that faith is caught not taught. Just giving people information is not enough to draw them back in.”
Parish groups across Brisbane are being asked to engage with the campaign, according to Archbishop Coleridge, “through prayer for the opening of hearts, accompaniment to those who are seeking, and welcoming new faces in the churches”.
“To help us reach as many people as possible, we will need your help to get the word out,” he said.
In January, Evangelisation Brisbane will provide parishes with flyers, posters, fence banners and a video featuring Archbishop Coleridge to play in place of the Sunday homily on Sunday, February 7.
Deacon Pellicaan said it was hard to predict the impact of the campaign and the accompaniment that followed through online resources, Catholic parishes and communities.
“We are throwing out the net wide and far,” Deacon Pellicaan said.
“If we are absolutely inundated with calls we’ll have to manage that in terms of staffing, because we do want to make sure that what we are doing is personal.
“If we got one per cent – about 6000 people – who did the whole course and re-engaged with the Church that would be a great start.”
Asked why the campaign was important now, Deacon Pellicaan quoted directly from Matthew 28:19 – “Go make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
“2020 has been a year of reckoning for a lot of people,” he said.
You can find out more about the campaign Call to All Catholics at: https://evangelisationbrisbane.org.au/baptisedcatholic/