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BOSTON -- The hopes for the “Arise: Together in Christ” program are many -- uniting a diverse parish, helping parishioners to deepen their faith and evangelization. For pastors, parish staff and parishioners the process of realizing these hopes began last month when they attended training sessions for launching Arise at their parishes.
The three-year Arise program, which was designed for the Archdiocese of Boston by Renew International -- a canonically recognized Catholic organization which fosters spiritual renewal -- in celebration of the archdiocese’s 200th anniversary is an itinerary of adult faith formation that seeks to create small communities in the parishes. These communities help members to open up to the Word of God and share their experiences of faith with other parishioners in a more personal and intimate way. Leadership training sessions were held in February to educate parish staff on the organization of the program and how to roll it out in their parishes.
Father Brian Smith, co-pastor at St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton, hopes that the Arise program will unite his parish, which is both ethnically diverse and has been affected by reconfiguration. Father Smith and Father Brian Flynn, his co-pastor, saw the program as a concrete way to bring the parish together.
“Now is really the first chance we have had to really grab on together and work on something as one family,” said Father Smith. “The program speaks to where we are right now and encourages us to keep coming together as one family and to appreciate what we have in the diversity and not lose what makes our parish such a rich ethnic group. We have 19 different languages spoken in our parish so this because it has been specifically tailored for the archdiocese.
“From the experience we had before with Renew, we got more people energized by the Word of God and ready to share it,” he said. “Parishioners can become evangelizers and spread the faith and be more involved in parish ministries by meeting with other fellow Catholics and talking at deep levels.”
Father Smith is hopeful that Arise will do just that in his parish by encouraging people who may not have become involved before to take on more of a role in the parish. “Once we get stimulated in faith we start looking for more ways to live it and participate in it,” he said. “The more people find their way more deeply into the family, the more they look for other ways to participate in parish life and the more they are helped in identifying for themselves where they are being called, whether it is to serve as eucharistic minister or learn about the St. Vincent de Paul Society.”
Over the next few months, parishes will form their eight to 10 person leadership teams that will organize and run the program at the parish level. Patricia Mikus, pastoral associate at St. Paul Parish in Hingham, says that now is “a period of intense prayer” in the parish as all parishioners are asked to consider becoming involved in Arise.
“We understand the Arise program to be an opportunity for personal and community spiritual development and, ultimately, the foundation for meaningful evangelization for our entire parish and beyond,” said Mikus. “To that end we will pray for the success of the Arise: Together in Christ program.”