Parish gets head start on ARISE sign-up

WESTON -- Summer vacations are just around the corner and members of St. Julia Parish want to make sure the word gets out about the ARISE: Together in Christ program before parishioners pack their bags. Group leaders introduced the faith initiative to parishioners during the weekend of June 7-8 to encourage them to become involved in September.

“We wanted to get the word out and publicize the program prior to summer when people go away,” said Joan Duffy, longtime parishioner and co-coordinator of the ARISE program at St. Julia Parish. “This was an attempt to familiarize as many people as possible before we have sign-ups in September because if we are hoping to be successful in the fall, we need to start early.”

In September, parishioners will have the opportunity to sign up to participate in small groups that will gather to discuss their faith during five, six-week sessions over the course of three-and-a-half years.

“I hope that it helps everyone -- committed regularly church-going parishioners and also others not as regularly practicing their faith -- to gather and see how Christian faith and everyday life come together, with the help of Scripture, some reflection points, and a small group of parishioners meeting one another, some for the first time,” said Father George Evans, pastor at St. Julia.

Wearing t-shirts with the ARISE logo, Duffy, Father Evans and other members of the ARISE leadership team encouraged people to think about becoming involved by greeting massgoers, handing out refreshments after mass, and answering questions. In addition, Father Evans spoke about the ARISE program at each of the Masses.

“We tried to answer the questions: who should be interested, what will it be like, when will it occur, and why should we do it,” explained Duffy. “There is a very short period of time between the signups and when the actual small community meetings begin and with everyone coming back from vacation, kids starting school and going off to college, there is not a lot of time to introduce the program.”

The heat wave of the June 7-8 weekend might have discouraged some people from lingering after Mass, but overall the effort was a success, said Father Evans. He praised the ARISE team leaders for their hard work in reaching out to parishioners.

“I only hope that the larger community of the parish has some of that same zest for the project as they do,” he said. “The whole initiative, at least, certainly let people know that we value this. Our sign-up period is yet to come, but we hope there is some interest, helped along by all our efforts to this point.”

The three-year ARISE program was designed for the Archdiocese of Boston by RENEW International, a canonically recognized Catholic organization that fosters spiritual renewal. The program is an itinerary of adult faith formation that seeks to create small communities in the parishes.