ARISE: A Sweet Idea!
Looking Forward to Season Four of ARISE Together in Christ
Looking Back the the Good News from Season Three

During the week of February 14, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston will begin meeting in small groups for the fourth Season of ARISE Together in Christ entitled New Heart, New Spirit. Season Four takes place during Lent and includes six faith-sharing sessions focusing on the central themes of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Last month, members of RENEW International's Pastoral Services Team conducted Small Community Leader Formation workshops for small group leaders in preparation for the coming season of faith sharing. Below we have captured just a few of the many "good news stories" from Season Three, In the Footsteps of Christ which emphasized the key themes of Catholic Social Teaching.

What we are trying to do in ARISE is to make Christians out of Catholics. We noticed in Season 3 that there was lots of stereotyping of those down on their luck, homeless, jobless etc. In the course of this season a group of us (some who were guilty of the stereotyping) went into Boston for an “evening out”. While there we met many homeless people on the streets and acknowledged our feelings once again. In our next session of ARISE we discussed this and made a decision to go into Boston again. On this visit, we made and carried sandwiches. We agreed that as we met a homeless person we would look them in the eye and introduce ourselves, ask them for their name, offer them a sandwich and say, “God Bless You.” After returning to their community, they shared about the differences they now felt about homeless people and were grateful to God for this experience.
- St Ann, Bridgewater

This parish which is working hard at bringing two communities together has over 20 groups. They say the number of activities and outreach is amazing, i.e. supporting a sister parish in the Dominican Republic where a group has just returned from after also organizing medical supplies for Haiti and collecting, cooking and serving food at more than one shelter. This area had 4 parishes close, 2 churches were sold, have 2 worship sites and 2 distinct communities. ARISE, they say, has helped bring together the communities and this was evident at their celebration liturgy after Season 3 where 125 people were present.

- Holy Family, Cape Ann & Gloucester

The Boston Home is in our parish. It is home to those with muscular diseases, most are in wheel chairs. They struggled with what they could do in light of the challenge to live Catholic Social Teaching. After some discussion they decided they believed in the power of prayer and would pray for priests and priestly vocations.

At the conclusion of ARISE we had the parish celebration at the Boston Home as they are unable to come to the parish. Our pastor presided at Sunday Mass preceding the evaluation and celebration. It was awesome!
- St Gregory, Dorchester

In one of the sessions, there was a suggestion to clip articles from the newspaper related to social justice. Our group did this and created a kiosk at the parish. These clippings provided starting points for others to discuss current issues of justice. This led to our realizing that we could make phone calls to our politicians. We could let them know what we felt needed to be changed. Even those who originally thought they could not make calls got into it and did. We felt very good about it.

- St. Mary, Dedham

The Mission aspect of the faith sharing came so much easier this season – we believe that was because of the focus on social justice. Some actions we engaged in included: sponsoring a baby shower for unwed mothers and collecting socks for veteran homeless men. One of the biggest effects of ARISE in our community is that folks are really getting to know one another – they are even greeting one another by name!

- St. John, Chelmsford

The following stories of the inmate participants were recorded at the Norfolk Correctional Facility.

- The disciples made lots of mistakes and so have I. I often wonder what Jesus saw in them. Then I realized that Jesus chose them and Jesus chooses me, too. Jesus picks us for a reason and you don’t necessarily have to be a scholar – being a fishermen worked for Jesus!
- Despite my being very isolated in prison, it is here that I have discovered true discipleship, love, and compassion.
- I am learning that God gives the gifts - that God sees something in me that I may never see.
- I’m the youngest member of our group and I often feel what do I have to offer these men who have so much more experience than me? Then I look around at all the ones who are coming in so much younger than me and I see that I have something to offer them. This is my call.
- I reflect on today’s movie, Lump, and I see that God has done everything for us including sending his only Son to die for us. What is left for me to do is to forgive!
- I really prayed over the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus and realized that when one forgives much, they love much and when one forgives little, they love little.

Learn more about ARISE Together in Christ.