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Enthusiasm Soars with Coming of ARISE

Earlier this winter the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, with the approval of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, joined forces with RENEW International to introduce a new initiative — ARISE Together in Christ — which offers a “three-year parish centered process of spiritual renewal, evangelization and adult formation that enables members to develop a closer relationship with Christ, grow in community and reach out in service to others.”

Natalie Kohrman, director of the Office of Evangelization, says the program will focus on establishing small Christian communities of eight to 12 members each who will meet regularly to read and reflect on Scripture and Church teaching, share how it relates in their personal lives and encourage active service and discipleship. The effort she hopes will stimulate “active and continual parish renewal.”

RENEW International Presents ARISE Together in ChristAs the ARISE Together in Christ process gears up, parish teams are forming across the diocese. Parishioners who have signed up as team members have attended recent information gathering meetings in specified areas in the diocese and the unbridled enthusiasm speaks volumes for the future of this unique formation process.

In South Bend, Dave Torma and wife Jan, members of St. Jude Parish since 1993, were drawn to participate in ARISE Together in Christ so that parish life may have a more community nature to it. Dave says learning about the process “was powerful from the aspect of faith sharing, which allows our hearts to be united under Christ as fellow Catholics.”

The Tormas look forward to supporting the ARISE effort and say they “know that the Holy Spirit will form us more deeply as Catholics and as a result, our parish community will grow and become more closely knit together.”

The ARISE process involves five seasons over a three-year period. Each season offers six-weeks of sessions with specific topics including, “Encountering Christ Today,” “Change Our Hearts,” “In the Footsteps of Christ,” “New Hearts, New Spirit,” and “We Are the Good News!”

Ann Unger, St. Bernard, Wabash, parishioner, believes in the importance of ongoing parish renewal after being involved with “Christ Renews His Parish” team in the late 1990s. She had been wanting to start a Women’s Bible Study at St. Bernard’s and was inspired when she learned about ARISE.

She says, “I feel that it’s a wonderful opportunity for a parish to take advantage of — a diocesan-wide Scripture-based weekly program to be presented in our homes or other meeting places to help us grow in our love of God and in our knowledge of Scripture.”

Unger’s hope for the faith formation process is “that we will grow in understanding more fully the richness of scripture and become more active in our parish and community. And in this process individually become more spiritually renewed.”

Fran Lortie, parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Albion for 29 years, couldn’t agree more. She says, “I am very excited about how the program will work overall. Because the program coordinates with the same Sunday morning Gospel readings for each season within the liturgical year, we then can further focus, study and meditate on those same readings in our small groups. I think that the institution of small groups within our parish is a great way for our parishioners to form a bond and get to know one another better. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for parishioners to become more comfortable and confident when sharing and evangelizing with others the Scriptures, teachings and traditions of our Catholic faith.”

She adds, “It is our team’s desire here at Blessed Sacrament to strengthen our Christian community by building upon that strong spiritual foundation that Christ himself has laid for us.”

George Kalil, a lifelong member of St. Vincent de Paul in Elkhart, says being involved in past parish renewal programs has been beneficial to his spiritual formation and looks forward to the ARISE process. His wife Vicki volunteered to be the ARISE parish coordinator.

During the informational meeting the Kalils learned that the process is available in Spanish, Vietnamese and several other languages with a large-print edition for the visually impaired, and that it appeals to a variety people and ages.

George reports, “ARISE is for everyone from around age 16 to — you fill in the blank. None of us is too young or too old to participate.”

The Kalils feel that the process will not only help deepen understanding of the faith but bond the members of the parish in a positive way. George says, “Once we can make that faith connection, participation in the parish will increase.”

For all who are interested in growing in faith, George encourages, “We have all been called to the New Evangelization and ARISE will help prepare us to answer that call each in our own way. The commitment of just six weeks for five times over three years makes it very easy to fit into anyone’s busy schedule. … Who knows you may help someone understand a part of their faith they have been struggling with or you may just learn something new.”

Article courtesy of Today's Catholic News, the newspaper of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Used with permission.

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