ARISE teams ready for Sign-up Weekend

Members of the ARISE parish team at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Dedham stand in front of one of their promotional banners. They are (left to right): Sandra Graham, Lorraine Loewen, Kelley and Nancy McCormick, Colleen Ladino, Audrey Pugliesi and Father William G. Williams, the pastor. Sign-up Weekend for ARISE Together in Christ is Sept. 13-14. Pilot photo/ Courtesy St. Mary Parish

BRAINTREE -- Volunteers at more than 160 archdiocese parishes are preparing for Sign-up Weekend Sept. 13-14 for “ARISE Together in Christ,” the archdiocese’s official renewal program for the bicentennial.

Many parishes and regions are incorporating ARISE in their bicentennial celebrations and planning other activities to drum up excitement in the program, said MaryAnn McLaughlin, the director of the Office of Worship and Spiritual Life. ARISE is a three-year parish-centered program that includes modules for adults, young adults and children, which are available in multiple languages developed for the archdiocese by Renew International. Renew is a private organization of the faithful that provides spiritual training support to more than 150 dioceses in the country.

“So far it has been going fabulous,” McLaughlin said. “This program has really captured the imagination of the people in the parishes.”

Many parishes are using innovative ways to publicize sign-ups for their local ARISE groups, she said. One parish is holding “Lemonade on the Lawn” and another is holding an ice cream social to get people involved. At St. Theresa of Lisieux Parish in Billerica, one couple designed and printed 50 lawn signs for ARISE.

The idea for the lawn signs was inspired by all the signs she saw in town protesting a new power plant or promoting a landscape service, said Doris M. Hallee, who with her husband, Renald C. Hallee, is leading the ARISE effort at St. Therese’s.

“My husband and I had several dialogues about it. We wanted to extend out beyond the people in the pews, who are not regular church-attenders,” she said.

Holding on to 10 signs for the town’s Yankee Doodle Weekend celebration -- held the same days as the ARISE sign-up -- the couple approached 40 active parishioners for permission to post the signs in their yards, she said. “Out of 40, only one said no. She told us: ‘No, I don’t do signs.’”

In the parish and in the town the reaction to the signs has been positive, but Hallee said it surprised her that people were surprised to see them.

“We have a friend who is in a Protestant church and he came over the house and asked: ‘Catholics don’t do this sort of thing, do they?’” she said.

When Sign-up Weekend is over, Hallee said she is not going to judge success by the numbers. “Even if just one person is helped then it is a success to me. I really, really mean that. Each soul is important and we are saving one soul at a time.”

At St. Patrick Parish in South Lawrence, the ARISE parish team used a section of the bulletin to generate interest and spark curiosity in the program.

In the bulletin they posed five thought-provoking questions that challenged the individual to take the next step, said Edward J. Sampson, a member of the team there. “We called it ‘Five Questions for 10 Minutes.’”

Sampson said Renew’s Web site, http://www.renewintl.org, was a helpful place to research the ARISE program, order promotion items and check out the message and discussion boards.

At St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Dedham, to prepare everyone for Sign-up Weekend, the ARISE team made large creative banners with slogans like: “Need a Faith Lift?” and mailed information to all registered parishioners, CCD teachers and members of the choirs, said Audrey L. Pugliesi, a member of the team.

“I really liked what our pastor, Father Bill Williams, wrote in the letter: ‘I know every time you get something in the mail from the pastor he is asking you for money. But this time, we have something to offer you,’” she said. The mailing included information about the program, as well as the names and numbers of the team members. Pugliesi said, “I am very excited about this; I think it is going to be fun.”

The ARISE teams have done a great job ramping up for Sign-up Weekend, said South Regional Bishop John A. Dooher, episcopal liaison for the program. “Time will tell, but they have done so much work and planning.”

From the beginning the Office of Worship and Spiritual Life has been very supportive of the parish teams, the bishop said. “I know that if a parish started late but still wanted to get involved, they (Office of Worship and Spiritual Life) made everything available to them and got them going on Step 1.”

At his home parish of St. Jerome Church in North Weymouth, the bishop said he, the pastor and all of the celebrants have been promoting the ARISE program to the congregants and doing whatever they can to support the local ARISE team.

“It is in the local parish that the rubber meets the road,” he said.

The bishop said the ARISE program is part of the Church’s mission to constantly reform itself, which is especially appropriate for the archdiocese’s bicentennial and given the turmoil of the past several years. “It is a chance for God to call back those who may have walked away for any reason.”

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