Barron is heading the yearlong project, initiated by Cardinal Francis
George. So far, Mission Chicago 2006 has included a three-day Festival
of Faith at a convention center, a day of round-the-clock confessions
with 70 priests on hand, a series of six “back-to-basics” sermons by
Fr. Barron and the distribution of 2,500 motivational DVDs.
flocked last month to the Festival of Faith, which featured concerts
and workshops in English, Spanish and Polish. And, at one parish, 400
people turned out this month for the round-the-clock confession
According to the
New York Times, some of the efforts are taking a cue from evangelical
Protestants, whose mega-churches are attracting some lapsed Catholics
due to their ability to link Scripture with everyday life. They also
use pop music, social events, the Internet, informal settings and
small-group fellowship to foster a sense of community.
is a response to the current reality facing the Church, namely
declining church attendance, a priest shortage, the aftermath of sexual
abuse scandals and the lure of other Christian denominations.
population in the U.S. grew to 64.8 million last year, from 45.6
million in 1965, due in large part to growth in the number of Latino
Catholics, which currently make up 39 percent of the nation's Catholic
population. But the percentage of Catholics who attend Mass weekly fell
to 45 percent in 2004, from 74 percent in 1955, and the number of
priests has dropped by 27 percent.
Chicago is the third-largest diocese in the United States with 2.3 million Catholics.
Archdiocese of Chicago has taken on a mega-evangelization project in an
effort to draw back lapsed Catholics and to re-energize practicing
Catholics in their faith. It’s called Mission Chicago 2006 and,
according to a New York Times report, Chicago is the largest
archdiocese to organize such wide-ranging events focused on