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BOSTON -- After months of preparation and organization, ARISE: Together in Christ is set to begin its renewal program in the Archdiocese of Boston in the next two weeks. For most parishioners this will be the first opportunity they have to get involved in the renewal program, which holds its first parish leadership training session Feb. 11.
ARISE: Together in Christ is a three-year, parish-centered process of spiritual renewal and evangelization, which is the centerpiece of the Archdiocese of Boston’s bicentennial celebration. The program was created by Renew International, a canonically-recognized Catholic organization based in the Archdiocese of Newark.
“We have this great resource in our diocese created by Renew International specifically for the needs of our archdiocese,” said Bishop John Dooher, south regional bishop and episcopal liason for ARISE: Together in Christ.
According to Bishop Dooher, Renew International created the ARISE program after conducting a series of questionnaires and surveys at the parish level. Taking that information, they created a program specific for the Archdiocese of Boston.
“That’s very powerful,” he said. “There’s personal renewal, parish renewal and archdiocesan renewal all going on in this process.”
The program seeks to evangelize both those who are actively involved in parish life, as well as those who have fallen away from their faith, by creating small groups of eight to 12 Catholics who will gather for five six-week sessions over the course of three-and-a-half years.
“In our bicentennial year, Cardinal Seán is inviting all of us to participate in a time of spiritual renewal,” explained Mary Ann McLaughlin, archdiocesan coordinator for the program.
Recalling the cardinal’s homily during the opening Mass for the bicentennial, McLaughlin said, “We want everyone to feel welcome, to feel that the candle is in the window calling them back in.”
“Because it is a part of our bicentennial celebration, it also helps us to celebrate what we have been as a diocese and look forward to what we are meant to be,” Bishop Dooher added.
To ensure that as many members of the archdiocese as possible are accommodated, the program will be conducted in English, Spanish, Lithuanian, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Vietnamese.
“We have been very impressed with the response of the parishes,” she said.
Last fall, pastors, parish staff and lay leaders had the opportunity to attend one of 10 information sessions explaining the program. Since then, nearly half of the archdiocese’s parishes have signed up to participate, McLaughlin said, adding that momentum seems to be building.
“Parish councils are now talking about it. People have been chatting about it, they’re getting excited about it, and sign-ups have taken on a life of its own” she said.
“The phone keeps ringing and ringing” with new parishes looking to sign up for the program, she added.
Beginning Feb. 11 and continuing until March 1, parishes which have signed up to participate in ARISE will send their parish team, a group of 8-12 parishioners who will lead their parish through the program, along with the pastor or pastoral team, to receive their first leadership training session. The meeting, which will focus on faith sharing and how to become a ministerial community, will also provide an overview of the entire three-year process.
“The training will be done by Renew International professionals who will travel here to Boston and share their expertise with us,” McLaughlin explained.
“All the training will be done by region,” she continued, with meetings set up in various places throughout the archdiocese.
“With this launch we are hoping that the parish planning team will catch the fire,” said Sister Theresa Rickard, OP, director of Renew International. “We hope they will see that it is simple, doable and very exciting.”
Sister Theresa added that she is, “very happy with the amount of parishes that have signed up” for ARISE, adding that parishes can still sign up even after the training sessions have passed.
“We’ll do anything we can to get parishes who sign up after the sessions have ended up to speed so we can have the greatest impact on Boston,” she said.
“We want everyone to know that there’s something new happening in the Archdiocese of Boston,” Sister Theresa said.