News Release: Television Advertising Underway Promoting the Freedom to Serve

March 28, 2017

(Lansing, Mich.) — Television commercials now running across Michigan are highlighting the Catholic Church’s freedom to serve others through its charitable, health care, and educational entities, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) announced today. Commissioned by MCC, the Freedom to Serve project began in late February and is scheduled to run through May with both sixty and thirty second commercials on more than two dozen cable and network television stations in Michigan.

“For over one hundred years, the Catholic community in Michigan has played a vital role providing our most vulnerable brothers and sisters with the material and spiritual care necessary to uphold their dignity as human persons,” said Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO Paul Long. “This rich tradition of service to others is only possible when faith-based agencies, health care providers, and schools are able to operate in concert with their long-standing faith tradition and mission. Regrettably, government mandates in recent years have made the Church’s efforts to serve others unnecessarily difficult.”

The Freedom to Serve commercials address the right for Catholic organizations to provide services to the general public in accordance with their faith-based mission, without unnecessary or burdensome intervention from the state or federal government. Two sixty second commercials along with online advertising are currently running on 28 network stations and cable systems in Michigan, reaching into each of the seven arch/dioceses in the state. In a spot titled “Little Simple Things,” the executive director of a Catholic end-of-life home speaks about how her faith informs the care she provides to those living their last days in peace and prayer. A second spot titled “Hands of Service and Healing” features the charitable work carried out by Catholic Charities in Flint as one of the largest providers of free water to children and families of the area harmed by elevated lead levels in the city’s drinking water. Additional commercials that will air on television in the next couple months highlight how Catholic health centers and Catholic schools care for and educate others in the spirit of service and love for neighbor. The commercials have been extracted from three short films filmed on location in Michigan by the firm Minus Red.

“The Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services, education, and health care after the government itself,” said Long. “This advertising project aims to reinforce the notion that faith-based health care, charitable, and educational entities here in the state are an inclusive and diverse component of our local communities that serve all in the spirit of ‘loving thy neighbor.’ Catholic institutions are administered and staffed by persons who do not leave their faith at the doorstep when serving others — it is who they are from morning until night.”

Across Michigan in 2016, Catholic elementary and secondary schools educated approximately 52,500 students in 222 schools; some 480,000 Michiganders received charitable care from Catholic social service providers; and over 5.5 million Michigan citizens received health care services from 22 Catholic hospitals — all without regard to race, religion, or income.

The Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors, which commissioned the Freedom to Serve effort, includes five laypersons, one religious sister, a diocesan priest, and the seven arch/diocesan bishops: Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit; Most Reverend Steven Raica, Bishop of Gaylord; Most Reverend David Walkowiak, Bishop of Grand Rapids; Most Reverend Paul Bradley, Bishop of Kalamazoo; Most Reverend Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing; Most Reverend John Doerfler, Bishop of Marquette; and Most Reverend Joseph Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw.

There are approximately two million Catholics in the State of Michigan, which represents some 19 percent of the total population of the state. To watch the short videos and television commercials produced for the Freedom to Serve project, visit

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

-- 30 --