ARISE Together in Christ is living up to its name by bringing people together throughout the Archdiocese of Boston. Begun in the parishes in Fall 2008, ARISE has over 180 parishes involved and almost 30,000 individuals participating, making it the biggest spiritual renewal effort in the Archdiocese’s history.
By offering Boston-area Catholics the opportunity to share and discuss their faith in relaxed small-group settings, participants are already experiencing the fruits of a process based on the unifying message of Christ’s Gospel. This coming together has fostered the beginnings of healing in merged parishes, bonds of community in multi-ethnic parishes, closer families, and even interfaith dialogue.
Parishes coming together
Del Wnorowski, a Parish Team member from Gloucester relates that ARISE Together in Christ has been a tremendous success in the blended Holy Family parish. Many have expressed the beauty of getting to know their “neighbors” and fellow parishioners. Bring the parish together was one of the co-pastor’s objectives after the consolidation that took place four years ago. While some people were still experiencing pain, ARISE has worked and will continue to work moving forward into the next Seasons.
According to Del, “The experiences that have been shared in the respective groups have been moving! ARISE has lit up our Cape Ann area as it is talked about on the street and in the stores.” People have said it has been the best spiritual program they have ever seen or participated in. Many have finally learned what Jesus is telling us in the Gospel and are experiencing, for the first time, the “Love” that He has for us and how much He wants us to follow His will and “Love” one another. They have also learned how to live the Gospel in their daily lives--something many have said they never realized they could do.
St. Edith Stein parish in Brockton held a celebration at the end of the first Season of ARISE Together in Christ. Fr. Brian Flynn, pastor of St. Edith Stein remarked, “Everyone felt blessed to be a part of ARISE. The program was bilingual, bringing together both the English-speaking and Portuguese-speaking, Cape Verde communities. That has been a major challenge facing our parish and we took a few small steps with ARISE.”
The saying “God writes straight with crooked lines” certainly holds true in this story recounted by MaryYutzy of St. Adelaide parish in Peabody. One of the women in our group shared how she believes that God answers her prayers - always! At one of our ARISE Together in Christ sessions she stated how she was feeling she should spend more time with her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, and resides in a local nursing home. That week the woman fell and broke her hip. She ended up in the same nursing home as her mother. At first she felt sorry for herself but then she realized - there was God answering her prayer. Now she gets to have breakfast with her Mom, plays bingo and meets her for tea in the afternoon.”
Joe Trainor St Anselm, Sudbury was motivated by reading Cardinal O’Malley’s pastoral letter on Jewish-Catholic Dialogue, a suggested action step in the third session of Season One. The results he relates are inspiring, “I read the Cardinal’s letter and found it wonderful. It is a tremendous reminder of how the Roman Catholic Church is reaching out to its ancestor in faith--the Jewish community. As a result of reading this letter, I reached out to our local rabbi. I met with him and was shocked with how much he knows about Jesus! I thought I’d know more than he. As a result, we have met on more than one occasion, and we extended an invitation to the rabbi to come and speak on discipleship at our parish this Lent. He has graciously accepted and looks forward to meeting our parishioners in order to continue this mutual outreach.”
In all corners of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Holy Spirit has been at work through the faith and actions of the parish participants. Through these actions, the bonds of friendship and community are bringing people “Together in Christ.”
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