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Catholic Church highlights its works in radio spot

The music is catchy, the message clear: "So much we can smile about - the church can show the way."

The Diocese of Rockville Centre is running radio ads aimed at highlighting the positive things the church does and inviting people to get more involved.

Diocesan officials say the 60-second ads on stations including WCBS / 880 AM are not aimed specifically at countering negative publicity or even about boosting donations amid the kickoff of the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal.

But if they do help in those areas, all the better, the officials say.

The ads' main purpose is "to get people to feel good about all the church is doing," said diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan. "I think people don't understand the contributions that the church makes to the Long Island community."

He added that "a lot of people feel somewhat in turmoil right now as a result of what is going on financially. It's a time to say, the mission of this church continues . . . and is more important than ever."

The ad states that besides ministering to the spiritual needs of Long Island's 1.5 million Catholics, the church also "reaches out in so many ways to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless, to clothe the needy, to heal the sick, to teach children life's important lessons."

Dolan said the ads began with one in late January focusing on Catholic Schools Week. That ad was adapted and made more "generic" for the current three-week run, which ends Sunday. Besides WCBS, the ads are airing on Long Island stations including WALK / 97.5 FM and WBAB / 102.3 FM.

Dolan noted that Pope Benedict XVI himself has urged priests and other church workers to embrace "social media" and other forms of communication to spread the Gospel and the works of the church.

The ads mark the first time in many years the diocese has taken out radio ads not linked to a specific event such as Holy Week, Dolan said.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., said many dioceses increasingly use the mass media to get their message out. "The competition for people's attention is increasing," she said. "In this media age you have to use every media opportunity that you have."

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