From The Archdiocesan Catholic Standard:

(. . .)

About 300 posters are printed and appear on 25 percent of the Metro rail cars. Fifty of the 300 are also put up in the individual churches that sponsor the campaign, according to John Kramer, the vice president for communications at the Institute for Justice who has directed the campaign for 18 years.comehome.jpg

Msgr. Peter Vaghi, who was involved with the campaign for 16 years at St. Patrick in the City and is now the pastor of the Church of the Little Flower, said the campaign is “a wonderful way to encourage people at this holy time of the year.”

It was started 19 years ago by Msgr. William Awalt and Msgr. Vaghi when they were stationed at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Washington. Msgr. Vaghi developed it into the subway ministry while he was at St. Patrick in the City.

With regard to whether the campaign has been successful, Kramer said, “tremendously so.”

“I hear back from the priests that tell me the confessionals fill up thanks to this campaign,” he said.

Msgr. Vaghi called the confessional a “citadel of mercy” and said “people’s lives are transformed” through Confession and they are “given a new start.”

According to Kramer, the purpose of the campaign is “two fold. One is to remind people of [the] religious nature of [the] holiday.” The second, he said, is to remind them of the redemption and forgiveness that was given to us as the first Christmas gifts. This is the “heart of what [the faith] is about,” forgiveness and salvation, he said.

Msgr. Vaghi said the campaign is for both active and inactive Catholics. Inactive Catholics are invited back to the church.

During his own experience riding the Metro home, Kramer said, “I’d sit there and I’d see a lot of tired and weary people.”

When they saw the “Come Home for Christmas” posters, he said, “You’d just see them be really lifted. They’d see the joy of the holiday…when they saw and really took in that poster.”

Msgr. Vaghi said he received a letter while he was at St. Patrick’s from someone who said the “Come Home for Christmas” poster was the “only Christmas-related message on [the] Metro.”

The advertising for the campaign, Msgr. Vaghi said, helps “bring Christmas to the Metro.”

“If only one person comes home to the church, it can be a success,” he said.

He added that the campaign is about “finding the lost sheep and calling him home.”

The “Church is our home…[We] want people to feel at home.”

This past year, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl started a similar campaign during the Lenten season, called “The Light is on for You.” Advertisements were placed on buses, billboards, and in newspapers to invite Catholics to Confession, and the archbishop wrote a pastoral letter on the sacrament that was printed in the Catholic Standard.