ARISE sign-up weekend is Sept. 12-13

BRAINTREE -- Through the ARISE program, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston are encouraged to put their faith into action. Not only are they called upon to participate actively in their parishes, but in the upcoming session they will learn about incorporating the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church in their lives.

The ARISE program will enter its third of five seasons beginning with sign-up weekend Sept. 12-13. The theme is “In the Footsteps of Christ.”

The current ARISE session will coincide with a Justice Convocation held in the Archdiocese of Boston. The convocation will have the same theme, and organizers hope participants will come away with concrete ways to connect their faith with action in the service of justice.

The convocation will be held at Boston College High School on Oct. 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Father J. Bryan Hehir, president of Catholic Charities. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley will also present.

The “ARISE: Together in Christ” program, organized for the Archdiocese of Boston by Renew International, is a parish-centered adult faith formation program. It seeks to create small, vibrant faith communities in parishes throughout the archdiocese, sparking a renewal that will help Catholics to grow deeper in the faith.

The first ARISE session began Oct. 5 last year. Each session of the program lasts six weeks, and small groups of parishioners will gather in homes for 90 minutes each week to discuss the Gospel, pray, and participate in faith sharing.

Renew International is a canonically-recognized Catholic organization, formed in 1978 and based in Plainfield, N.J., in the Archdiocese of Newark. The program has been utilized in 155 of the 170 dioceses in the United States.

The upcoming session will put a special emphasis on inviting young adults to participate in ARISE.

Patty O’Connor, the director of religious education and ARISE coordinator at St. Mary Parish in Randolph, said parishioners of all ages are participating in ARISE. Even pastor Father Ronald Coyne attends an ARISE faith-sharing group.

“From the pastor to the young people, everyone’s involved,” she said. “It’s like a constant pilgrimage in and out of the Church.”

This participation builds up the unity of the parish and understanding between the different cultures that exist in the community. St. Mary’s has parishioners who are originally from China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad and Vietnam, she said.

Father Robert Blaney of St. Jerome Parish in Weymouth said that both the congregation and individual parishioners have gained from the participation in ARISE.

“We’ve had a lot of success,” he said, citing Catholics returning to the Church, having their marriages recognized by the Church, baptizing older children and experiencing healing in their faith lives.

Many Arise participants have continued to meet between the spring and fall sessions, he added.

MaryAnn McLaughlin, co-coordinator of Arise and co-director of the Office for Worship and Spiritual Life, said participants at other parishes have also met in the time between the two seasons.

“That tells you there is a desire for faith sharing and that this is working in parishes in very different ways,” she said. “There seems to be a real response.”

McLaughlin noted that Catholics and parishes alike can join the Arise program at any time. For the third season, more than 20 parishes are scheduled to participate for the first time.

“Now is a good time for people to consider participating,” she said. “The program really meets people where they are at.”

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