byBishop John A. Dooher
Happy Anniversary to all!
These are special days for the Church in Boston. This past Tuesday, April 8, 2008, marked the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Boston by Pope Pius VII. In such an event, there is a remembering and retelling of history but there is also the challenge of reaching out to the future. Cardinal Seán has called us to look back in thanksgiving and look forward with renewed faith, hope and love as we move through the “ARISE: Together in Christ” program.
“ARISE: Together in Christ” is a three-year parish-centered process of spiritual renewal and evangelization that enables us to deepen our faith, develop a closer relationship with Christ, and to grow as a faith community that reaches out in service.
Early in the developmental stages, Cardinal Seán appointed Mary Ann McLaughlin of the Office of Worship and Spiritual Life as director of the ARISE effort and me as the episcopal liaison. Mary Ann is well-known and trusted by laity, religious and priests for her work in parish missions, retreats and spiritual direction. I was so very pleased that she would accept this responsibility. Also, I have been so impressed with the staff of Renew International who has worked with such dedication in preparing this program. They have listened to our needs, our hopes and dreams for renewal. They have directed listening sessions, Internet surveys, presented informational sessions and with their direction, we have launched the program with training for those who will implement “ARISE: Together in Christ” in the local parish. There is great confidence knowing that the Renew team will be with us along every step of this journey. All in the archdiocese are invited to come together as a renewed community of laity, religious and clergy, to welcome back those who may have distanced themselves from the Church and to spread the good news of Jesus Christ by our daily lives. This is an opportunity for us to deepen and share our faith lives, and together to renew and energize the good work that is the life of our parishes. Parishioners across the archdiocese have been meeting to discuss the program, to make suggestions for its content. In these weeks, pastors, parish staffs and parish Arise teams have been meeting and training to ensure success for all the parishes that have signed on for this renewal.
At this time, more than half of the parishes in the archdiocese are actively working together in the training sessions which are being held in each region. April 7-19 the workshop, “Evangelization: Reaching Out,” will train the parish Arise teams in proven methods of inviting more and more parishioners into this journey of renewal. There is great excitement and as the weeks go on, more parishes will join the effort. To this end, the Office of Worship and Spiritual Life has made itself available to any parish that might still be discussing “ARISE: Together in Christ” and wants them to know that it’s “doable” and all are welcome. Enrollment will remain open and help is just a phone call away.
This week I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like 200 years ago for that small community of Catholics spread throughout New England to understand the challenge that was theirs when Pope Pius VII named Boston as one of four new dioceses cut off from Baltimore. It would be a time for great efforts of evangelization led by Father Anthony Matignon and his student, friend, co-worker and later our first bishop, Jean Louis Cheverus. These two diocesan priests, building on the work of other missionaries, would establish the foundation of this great archdiocese. It was then and is now a time of deep faith and prayerful trust in God, a commitment to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and growing together in faith, hope and love. The call comes to every generation and time in the life of the Church. We ARISE: Together in Christ and answer God’s call. Happy Anniversary!
Bishop John Dooher, Regional Bishop of the South Region of the archdiocese, is the episcopal liaison to the ARISE: Together in Christ program.