(AoftheANews) – KANSAS CITY – Fr. Mark Ahting, pastor of Our Lady of Good Bargains, signed advertising contracts with several major US Catholic publications and groups in an effort to raise funds to improve their parish labyrinth. Starting next Sunday, ads for National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, and other Catholic groups will be featured on his vestments, visible to parishioners and church-goers during the weekend Masses.
“I wanted to do something other than the standard raffle or fundraiser,” Fr. Ahting told AoftheA News. “I didn’t want to ask my parishioners to contribute – they’re older, have limited income, and they already do so much for the parish, but I struggled to find an effective way to raise money. A few weekends ago, I was watching a Nascar race, and then it struck me: drivers wear advertising of their sponsors, so why can’t I?”
After numerous phone calls and meetings, Fr Ahting got the deals he was looking for, and the companies and Catholic publishers he’s contracting with are excited.
“We never considered advertising in a church,” a spokesman for the National Catholic Reporter said. “The overwhelming majority of our readers don’t even attend Sunday Mass, so we look at this as a great way to expand our readership.”
“Our membership has been slowly dropping,” a spokesperson for Call-to-Action told AoftheA News, “mostly through attrition due to old age. We’re willing to pay for advertising so that unsuspecting Church-goers will learn about us and get sucked into our group.”
Fr Ahting has several other ideas in the works. “I’m in discussion with America Magazine, for example, where they’ll provide corporate sponsorship of the Prayers of the Faithful. And I’m in preliminary negotiations with other organizations to sponsor the first and second readings, too. There might come a Sunday where the congregation will hear the lector say ‘A reading from the prophet Isaiah, brought to you by Patheos’.”
Fr Ahting predicts he’ll have enough money for the labyrinth improvements by early 2018, and is accepting requests for naming rights. “By next year, you might see a sign that reads ‘Our Lady of Good Bargains LCWR Labyrinth of Serenity’. You never know.”
Each organization AoftheA News spoke with said they will be pursuing Mass advertising aggressively.
“This could be a cash cow for parishes around the country,” one spokesperson said. “When you look at churches being forced to close because of declining attendance, well, the income generated from our advertising could help keep the doors open.”
Which begs the question: if falling attendance rates are forcing churches to close, then will enough people be exposed to the marketing to make a difference? And will the publications gain enough subscriptions to offset the advertising costs?
“Listen,” the NCR spokesperson said when asked those questions, “using logic like that is hate speech and a cheap shot. That sort of talk is unacceptable.”
Image source: created by Acts of the Apostasy