Contact Sr. Linda LaMagna, CCW,
Diocesan Coordinator

COME HOME is an evangelizing ministry to inactive Catholics, who desire to journey back to the Church. It meets people where they are in their search for their spiritual home. It is prepared in a manner that is respectful of where individuals are on their Christian journey and invites them to tell their stories of shaken faith, hurts, and doubts. It encourages them to convey what it is they feel they need in order to return to the Church. Those who meet with them help them to feel comfortable, welcome them, and help them find the support they need to journey back to the church.

COME HOME was born in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown because a large number of people from many parishes involved in the Disciples in Mission Process expressed a concern for their sisters and brothers who had left the faith. They wanted to actively invite them to return and needed a process to help them do that. After a search of available programs, the Diocese decided to use Come Home, developed by Lori and Dick Duquin in the Diocese of Buffalo. COME HOME is helping us reach out to people who feel separated from the Catholic Church because of marriage problems, divorce, painful memories, lifestyle, anger, guilt, hurt, boredom, misunderstandings and many other reasons. For most people, coming back to the Church is a difficult step. For some it happens quickly for others it may take years. It may involve shopping for a parish or finding the priest with whom they feel comfortable talking. Sometimes marriages that took place outside the church will need to be validated. It is important to keep in mind that it is each person’s journey and each person’s journey is unique.

Arlene Allison V
2398 Harvest Ridge Drive
State College, PA 16803

Rev. John Byrnes
Basilica of St. Michael
P.O. Box 144
Loretto, PA 15940

Rev. George Gulash
St. Joan of Arc
692 Glendale Valley Blvd. Fallentimber, PA 16639

Mary Grace Neugebauer
150 Apple Drive
Cresson, PA 16630

Sr. Mary Parks, CSJ
741 Railroad Street
Johnstown, PA 15901
814-695-5579 (work)

Rev. David Peles
St. Mary Church
1020 Caroline Street
Nanty Glo, PA 15943

Kim Ryan
4029 Ridge Ave
Altoona, PA 16602

Fr. Edward Sabo
St. Clare of Assisi Church
124 Maple Street
Johntown, PA 15901

Mrs. Rose Shaffer
556 Summit Ave.
Johnstown, PA

Patricia Shaw
300 Second Ave.
Altoona, PA 16602

Mary Frances Shedlock
1496 Penn Street
Nanty Glo, PA 15943

Susan Stith
5379 Portage Street
Lilly, PA 15938

Jean Vargo
248 Cinema Drive
Johnstown, PA 15905

Pastor's role:
The Come Home process actually begins with and requires the support of the Pastor. The Pastor doesn’t have to have “hands on,” day-to-day involvement for the process to succeed but if he is vocal in his support the people who serve on the Come Home team can blossom in that parish.

Team Formation:

The Team should consist of two to five members and a facilitator.
It is necessary to have a priest on the Come Home team.

Training & On-going Support:

A Diocesan Come Home Support Committee is available to assist parishes beginning the process and parishes needing assistance while doing the process. Contact Sr. Linda LaMagna, CCW at Phone: 814-944-3922

Adapting Come Home to your particular parish:

After training, meet to brainstorm:
(1) What kinds of people are we trying to reach out to?
(2) What is the best way to reach people in our part of the diocese?

Formation of subcommittees:

Team members choose a subcommittee on which each will feel comfortable serving.
A multifaceted approach:
--Printed invitations which could be in the pews
--flyers, window signs, posters
--prayer cards
--newspaper advertising
--personal contacts
Promotional materials could also be available at the church entrances for parishioners to pick up and distribute to people they know who are away from the church.

--plans an optional Family and Friends Gathering (see below)
--plans the logistics of the Come Home sessions
--welcoming group
--information table
--format of the three sessions
--speakers for the workshop session

--refreshments should always be served
at Come Home Gatherings



COME HOME is a series of Three information sessions which might be offered three times a year; Come Home for Easter, Come Home for Christmas, and Come Home for the fall.

SESSION 1: Several brief witness talks, some prayer experiences and a brainstorming session where participants identify what they would need in order to make a decision to return to the Church

SESSIONS 2 and 3: are developed to meet the needs identified in the first session. Topics might include: divorce and annulment, how to go to Confession, dealing with doubts and mistrust, I no longer understand the mass, how to pray, guilt, anger, healing the pain of the past. The human side of the Church, how much do you have to believe, who makes the rules, the Creed, etc.

During these session participants may obtain answers to their questions. Additional sessions could be added depending on the needs of the participants.

The Come Home process is completely anonymous. No nametags, no sign-ins.


The Come Home Lecture Series is a follow-up to the Come Home process. It features lectures on topic chosen by Come Home participants.

Topics might include:
Changes in the Church since Vatican II
How to forgive when it still hurts
How much do I have to believe?
Who makes the rules?
Why bad things happen
Everything you wanted to ask about God and the church
How anger, guilt, shame, and fear impact our lives
How to pray
Healing the pain of the past
Mad at God and holding a grudge
What about my Conscience


  • The Sessions begins with an ice breaker worksheet entitled “Is it True or is it False?” (Assure participants that it is not a test)
    The answers are given during the introductory remarks
  • The session opens with a prayer. The facilitator comments on the number of people who are away from the church and offers some statistics, i.e. an estimated 16-20 million Catholics in the United States are away from the church.
  • The facilitator indicates that everyone is gathered for a particular reason and asks participants to identify what they would need in terms of dealing with a loved one who is away from the church. Responses are freely given.
  • Someone who has left the church and returned gives a brief witness talk. A guided prayer or meditation follows this.
  • If necessary a break may be taken with refreshments depending on the amount of time used for the above parts.
  • The next portion of the evening can be conducted in two ways depending on the group size.
    With a SMALL GROUP a facilitator can address the needs identified by the group.
    With a LARGE GROUP a people can break up into smaller groups with a facilitators and address particular topics presented such as marriage problems, loss of faith, refusal to go to Mass, dealing with fundamentalists, moral issues, hurts caused by the church, anger with God, etc. The small group will be invited to come back together for the closing part of the session.
  • In the final remarks, the facilitator is encouraged to use Scriptural examples of people falling away from God or the community and focuses on the gift of free will and God’s merciful love. People are urged to let go of their feeling of guilt over family members or friends. Prayer is essential. Don’t give up.
    They are reminded that the only person they can changes is themselves and sometimes the best approach is concentrating on loving the family member unconditionally. They are told that individuals might never be successful in drawing a loved one back, but that we can work together in the larger effort of evangelizing people in our neighborhoods and workplace. Other suggestions for dealing with a loved one could include:

Focus on your own faith experience. Are you a gloomy Catholic? Do you
Constantly criticize the Church? Do you project a sense of joy, peace, love and enthusiasm?

  • Make sure that you have correct information when talking to someone who is away from the Church.
  • Encourage people who are thinking about returning to the Church to find a place where they feel comfortable. Some like the anonymity of a large, suburban parish. Some seek the community of a small parish. Some look for traditional liturgies and devotions. Others look for opportunities to help the poor or work toward social justice. We should celebrate that we have all this---and more!---in the Catholic Church.
  • The evening closes with a prayer service in which people can ask the Priest to pray individually with them for their family member/s or friend/s.
  • The Priest or leader informs those gathered of the “Come Home” sessions, which will begin in the parish and encourages them to invite family members or friends to the first session, which will be held on ________________.


Publicity is key to recruiting inactive Catholic for the Come Home process. The number of attendees corresponds with how well the sessions are advertised. Local newspapers will probably reach the eyes of the inactive Catholics that are out there. Parish Web sites can also be very effective. Bulletin announcements will help family members invite family members to the sessions. Outdoor signs on parish ground and or parishioner’s businesses and announcements in the religion sections of the newspapers. Invitations in the pews or Gathering spaces of churches during the Christmas and Easter Masses can also be most helpful since this is the time that many inactive Catholics will still attend Mass.

leadership team how it works beginning the process back to main page