Pastoral Themes

Spiritual Renewal - ARISE: Together in Christ


“We believe you are doing something new,
calling us to arise together in Christ
to celebrate the fullness of life. Amen.”

From The ARISE Prayer
Renew International1.

Renewing our faith life—as individuals and as Church—is an ongoing part of what it means to be Catholic. In 2008, our Bicentennial year, we began a three-year program designed to help renew parish life and to help parishioners strengthen their spirituality. Called ARISE: Together in Christ, the program is designed around the concept of bringing parishioners together in small groups. Members of the groups meet weekly over a six-week period. They share their faith experiences with one another, reflect upon how they are encountering God in everyday life, and look for ways to connect faith to action.

“You call us to holiness
and we trust you to lead us together
on our journey to be a renewed Church,
for with you all things are possible.”

The first ARISE session took place in the fall of 2008 and was a tremendous success. Approximately 30,000 people participated, and 3,000 volunteers signed up to be group leaders, taking a two-hour training program in preparation. The program was offered in English, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Lithuanian and American Sign Language. Versions of the program for children and teens took place in Catholic Schools and religious education classes.

“Enliven our parishes; reunite our families.
May your Holy Spirit empower us
to live as a community of love”

Two important objectives of ARISE are community building and evangelization Feedback from the first session revealed those objectives were met in a variety of ways. Parishioners were surprised and delighted with the renewed sense of community that resulted. Some took advantage of opportunities to invite family members or friends to accompany them to ARISE. One of the most exciting developments was that ARISE spread beyond the parish. The Invitation to Act portion of the program, where participants look for ways to put their faith into action, spurred people to reach out to others, offering friendship, comfort and support. But even beyond that, participants brought the program with them to other aspects of their lives. Examples include parishioners who volunteer in a nursing home starting a program there and others who brought the ARISE books with them to Florida for the winter, leading a program there.

Renew International, a Catholic organization based in Plainfield, NJ, created ARISE and customized the Boston program to meet our Archdiocese’s needs. ARISE will continue through 2011, and parishes are welcome to join at any time. For more information, contact Mary Ann McLaughlin or Ann Cussen, 617-779-3640,


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Jay Fadden interviews Sister Terry Rickard from RENEW International about her organization's revitalization programs.