WORCESTER, Mass. – The pews were filled last weekend for Easter Sunday Masses, but what about this week?

There is a good chance they won’t be. That is just a fact of the times, according to officials in the Catholic Church.

Nonetheless, the Archdiocese of Boston spent the Lenten season asking lapsed Catholics to “come home.”

The archdiocese held a special collection at masses on Jan. 23 and spent about $600,000 to implement the Catholics Come Home campaign developed by Tom Peterson of Atlanta and piloted by the Diocese of Phoenix in 2008.

It encouraged Catholics who have been away from the church to return, said Janet Benestad, secretary for faith formation and evangelization for the archdiocese.

Deacon Raymond A. Gagnon at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Shirley said several people returned to the parish following the advertising campaign.

Viewers watching NESN, the local news, cooking shows and prime time series in their kitchens or living rooms probably saw the ads, Benestad said.

Parishes around the archdiocese encouraged their members to take part in individual evangelization efforts by asking family or friends to return to church.

“We’ve been promoting it, and I’ve seen some results,” Gagnon said. “The church has a few new faces in there. My pastor was telling me he’s got about seven guys who saw the ad and came back.”

“A number of people have seen those brief public service ads on the TV station, and they have commented very favorably, that somehow they were struck emotionally by it,” said the Rev. Monsignor Francis Goguen, pastor of St. Cecilia Church in Leominster.

The great thing about the commercials is their ability to reach people clergy seldom get to meet, Benestad said.

The ads talked about the 2,000-year history of the church, of outreach to the poor, education and parish life.

Other commercials suggested self-reflection and said it is not too late to rewrite the script of personal lives.

“They are very powerful commercials that extend invitations to people who have been away and give them a reason to return,” Benestad said.

It is too early to tell how successful the advertising campaign has been, but anecdotal evidence indicates good response, Benestad said. The archdiocese plans to do a count of people attending Mass in May.

Thirty dioceses have used the campaign across the country and more than 200,000 people in the first 12 dioceses have returned or converted, Peterson said.

Attendance rose an average of 10 percent and as high as 18 percent, he said.

The Diocese of Manchester, N.H., ran the campaign concurrently with the Boston archdiocese.

The Worcester Diocese expects to implement a similar campaign at some point but was not ready to do it at the same time as Boston, said Ray Delisle, director of communications and vice chancellor of operations.

It takes about a year to prepare for the campaign because parishes need to go through a self-evaluation process and train for evangelization, he said.

The Catholic Church is still recovering from the alienation of church closings and the sex abuse scandal, but the drop-off in attendance started before those events, Delisle said.

Church was an extension of family for many people who were new to the country, but as the generations passed the commitment waned, he said.

The church must face sociological changes such as fewer marriages and more divorces, Delisle said.