Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl has written a pastoral letter for Lent urging Catholics "to invite back to Church, back to Mass, someone you know who has drifted or walked away from the Church."

"To be a Catholic is to share the joy of our faith with them by inviting them once again to reconnect with their Church and with the life-giving sacraments," Archbishop Wuerl wrote in his pastoral. He also said that "many of us probably know someone like that, those who just drifted away, or felt they had a good reason to walk away. Whatever their motive for leaving, it is time we invited them home."

The complete text of the letter is o available on-line at the Archdiocese of Washington's Website, www.adw.org .

In his letter - titled Belonging to God's Family - Archbishop Wuerl suggests Catholics first invite to return to the Church family and friends who may have drifted away.

"What a fruitful goal it would be for this Lenten season to invite back, beginning perhaps with those closest to us, someone who may have drifted away from the faith," the archbishop wrote. "It is difficult to think of a more significant personal missionary activity for ourselves and a better gift for another than to encourage someone to come back to their spiritual home."

Dated Jan. 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, and released this week in time for the start of Lent, the letter is addressed to the clergy, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Washington.

"For us and those who long to see Christ fully, they must be with their faith family, the Church," Archbishop Wuerl said in his letter. "For this to happen we need to have a way to ask them."

The "way to ask them," as outlined in the pastoral, is in the form of a pre-printed card bearing the archbishop's personal invitation to return to the Church. The invitations will be available in every church during Lent.

"The invitations are from both of us. They are meant for you to give to someone else," the archbishop wrote in his pastoral. "You can tell that person that I asked you to pass it along. The message is simple: 'If you have been away, please come back. You are an important part of our family and we miss you.' "

In his letter, Archbishop Wuerl said the campaign will be promoted on billboards and signs across the archdiocese. It will also be featured on Metro cars and buses, in newspapers, on radio, and on a special YouTube video.

"We are running these advertisements for two reasons. First, we want to remind ourselves that we are all always longing for God. While we may know Christ and be active in our parish, we still long for a deeper relationship with God," Archbishop Wuerl wrote. "Secondly, we want to propose this question, 'What are you longing for?' to those who are away from the Church... We would like gently to point out to them, in the end, it is God who will satisfy them."

In his letter, Archbishop Wuerl said Lent is the perfect time to invite those who have left the Church to return.

"Lent, as we prepare for Easter and reflect on what our faith means to us, is a time to invite others who are not at Mass any more to rejoin our Church family," he wrote. "This Lent, across the archdiocese we will make a special effort to say to our family, our friends and our neighbors who no longer attend Mass, 'We miss you. You used to be with us at Mass on Sunday. We invite you back to your home - your spiritual home.'"