ARISE Reflections

Reflections of participants in ARISE Season One, Encountering Christ, held in Fall 2008.

“I found ARISE to be an enriching experience because it was unlike anything else I had experienced in my life in the parish here. A group of adults, women and men together, in a relaxed setting, taking time to really listen to one another and to hear how our faith was intertwined with our daily concerns. We shared, prayed, listened to scripture and talked about how it spoke to us. We prayed for one another throughout the week and felt strengthened by our spiritual connection.
— Katie

We found that meeting in a small group of fellow parishioners created a sense of inclusiveness and intimacy that led to an openness and willingness to share our innermost thoughts not just about our relationship with Christ and the church; but even some of our own personal challenges.
— Maureen and Peter

I found that the ARISE program was exactly what I was looking for. Our group was very supportive of one another and sharing was encouraged, but never forced. As a result of participating in ARISE, I re-connected with some old friends and made some new ones. Prior to ARISE I thought about reaching out to a work colleague in need or donating to the Holliston Food Pantry, but my thoughts never translated into action. Now I made a commitment to share who I am and what I have with others.
— Betty

Over the course of our six weeks together we shared much about ourselves, our faith journeys (and we were all at very different points on that journey, how faith is part of our families – both those in which we were raised and those in which we are raising our children… By the end of the six weeks we had all learned so much from and about each other and about our faith.
— Barbara

I’ve found that Christ sits around the table with us during our weekly gatherings. We came to recognize Christ in one another. We were open to more clearly hear Jesus call our names. We shared the challenges and joys of ENCOUNTERING CHRIST. There are all kinds of Support Groups in our society; I encourage you to join ARISE and perhaps use it as a spiritual support group. In our group of eight we learned that our individual faith journeys have some common threads. I look forward to journeying together with Christ this Lent.
— Ann

Reflections of participants in ARISE Season Two, Change Our Hearts, held during Lent 2009:

“My experience with ARISE is a highlight of my week. My group is warm and receptive to all members and their contributions…I treasure each session and already anticipate ARISE III.”

“I enjoyed being part of ARISE this season. It helped me to grow in my faith, understand better about what God wants me to do and to be in touch with my spirituality.”

“This has been a very thought provoking program.”

“Great way to meet new people from the parish. Excellent way to participate more meaningfully in Lent.”

“The ARISE Program helped me keep centered during this Lenten season and enriched my faith and love of the Catholic Church and God’s love for us.”

“It [ARISE] is a nice way to explore spirituality and make spiritual friends, something that is quite difficult to do under ordinary circumstances.”

“Such a fulfilling and enriching experience, sharing and learning more about my faith.”

“It’s a well organized program. I always felt comfortable and encouraged to share.”

“I got a lot more from the program last year than I thought I would. As the members of my group grew to know each other better, the sense of support – love – and caring made it easier to share personal stories of our own struggles – and successes – of living more like Jesus would have us live. It motivated me to take more small steps: more prayer, more acceptance of the people I live with, more belief in the ability of committed Christians to make a difference in their families and community. The book started good discussions and helped me slowly get a better understanding of Jesus as fully human and fully divine.”

“Prior to ARISE I focused solely on enriching the faith of my children and other children in the parish through teaching religious education. I did nothing to enrich or grow my own faith. The small group setting and the 6-week seasonal format were just what I needed to help me set aside time each week without becoming overwhelmed with yet another commitment. While I was a little apprehensive about not having participated in the 1st season, the group I joined opened their hearts and arms and made me feel welcome and integral to the group.”

“While my stewardship in Religious Education is very rewarding I’ve always felt my personal growth and own spiritual journey was waning. I have always struggled for answers but my recent move to Holliston left me feeling more adrift–alone and confused. I was connected but disconnected at the same time–a very unsettled place to be. Joining an ARISEgroup in the spring of 2009 introduced me to parish members on their own journey and their heartfelt faith sharing broadened and enriched my relationship with God. The season fell during Lent and was perfect timing to help me move toward changing my relationship with God and others. I was charged with a new energy and I didn’t want the sessions to end. So I definitely look forward to the next season.”

Reflections of participants in ARISE Season Three, In the Footsteps of Christ, held during Fall 2009:

“Having been a member of St. Mary’s and a faithful attendee at Mass for 32 years, I never felt as close to my church community or had a chance to listen and share my thoughts as I have in this past year vs. 32 years.”

[ARISE is] “a great opportunity to explore faith in a safe environment. [It is] a way to take time for me to grow in faith; also help to focus on prayer life.” “People not in ARISE are missing out.”

“It [ARISE] continued to deepen my faith and get to really know some of my fellow parishioners.”

ARISE accepts disciples at whatever place they are on their spiritual journey. Our small group gatherings have been enlightening and transforming. Members are at ease with one another as we pray together, sing, share life experiences and inspire one another to continue walking in the footsteps of Christ.”

“It [ARISE] is a great gift I have given myself.”

“It [ARISE] helps to connect daily life to the teachings of the church to enhance our faith.”

“Seeing my fellow ARISE participants and their families at Mass enhances my connection to our parish family and the ‘Family of God’. The warmth, trust and connections we have made are now some of the more important friendships in my life.”

“It [ARISE] was a great experience. I enjoyed the opportunity to look a little deeper at myself and my faith. It wasn’t a bunch of ‘holy rollers’, just regular people connecting in a positive way.”

ARISE has been a great sharing and growing experience for me and my husband. We were both pleasantly surprised by how much we grew together.”

ARISE! has become a great program that we greatly enjoy. It has enriched our faith, our community at St. Mary’s and we hope everyone will try it.”

“The program has continually enriched my spiritual well being. Sharing many aspects of the Catholic faith and feeling closer to Jesus has been wonderful.”

“[ARISE is] a wonderful place to share your walk with the Lord.”

ARISE has been a wonderful opportunity for me to learn as an adult about the Catholic Church’s teachings, and how they affect my life personally, in my community, in my country, and globally. It has taught me how to connect my “church life” with the rest of my life. Father Mark often talks about coming faithfully to mass in order to center ourselves and our lives – to the calm of the storm that is life outside of church. ARISE has taught me to connect that storm of my daily life to the teachings of Jesus and the ARISE Church, thereby bringing much peace and harmony into every aspect of my life. I can say that I am fulfilling that promise to grow in my faith because I have become involved in ARISE.”

“I have found it [ARISE] to be such a rewarding experience. I was hesitant to participate at first because of my home and work commitments, but fortunately a neighbor of mine convinced me to just come to one session as a visitor. I did and was welcomed by the group with open arms. I found my visit to be so rewarding that I continued for the six week session. The discussions we had each week helped me discover connections between my faith and my daily life. Most importantly it filled a need for me to set time aside each week to concentrate on my relationship with God.” –Carolyn

ARISE has been a great experience for me. When I first saw the advertisement for ARISE, I had just returned from my 2nd St. Mary’s mission trip. I was looking for a way to strengthen my faith and felt the time was right. I had two concerns: Can I fit this into my busy schedule? AND Will I be joining a group that is well versed in the Bible and the Catholic Religion, because I am not! I decided to give ARISE a try, because I rationalized if it doesn’t work, it’s only six weeks. At my first ARISE meeting, I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone was welcoming and friendly. You participated when you were ready and it doesn’t matter how well you were versed in the Bible or Catholic Religion. On my drive home, I thought what a great way to spend the night and end the week.”

“I really believe in the grace of this program [ARISE] to renew us as individuals and to renew our parish. I was looking forward to participating in an ARISE group because I needed some structured time to reflect on my relationship with God, talk with other people about their faith experiences and see more of the links between my faith and my actions at home, at work, in the community. I have not been disappointed. I have enjoyed hearing about other people’s faith journeys and I have taken time during the meetings and between them to think about my relationship with God. This past season of ARISE was particularly challenging, as the focus was on Catholic social teaching…what is my responsibility to others in my immediate world and the world outside of Holliston! The time we spent together certainly gave me plenty to think about!”

“I Love the ARISE program! It gives me a special time once a week to come together with fellow members of St. Mary’s to reflect on God’s Word and listen to challenging stories from our ARISE booklet. My group has inspired me with their faith stories and helped me be more aware of God working in my daily life. Together we help one another to grow in our faith and discover new ways we are being called by God to put our faith into action. It has been a wonderfully renewing and engaging experience.” –Sandy

Reflections of participants in ARISE Season Four, New Heart, New Spirit, held during Lent 2010:

“This season was excellent because of the [timing] with the Lenten season. How appropriate! Personally for me it really increased my awareness of letting go of things that bound me up! To be free!”

“Our group provided a safe, loving and supportive environment to have genuine, prayerful and very wide-ranging discussions of our feelings about our faith, God, prayer, doubt, and the Church. We shared a variety of positive and negative feelings, voicing joys and frustrations with real honesty, knowing that we would be heard in our group in a way that many of us do not feel heard in the larger church community. Our group helped each other grow in faith, in prayer, in devotion to religious practice, and we grew in compassion and charitable action. It would be so great for those unsure about ARISE to give it a try. It may be an experience of church like they have yearned for but not yet found.”

“This program has led me to a deeper relationship with Christ, my family and my community.”

“Two years ago I never would have found myself on an email distribution list which asks for prayers for someone I didn’t know…who would have known?”

“Each ARISE meeting is like a mini retreat. There is communal prayer, music, scripture, silence and group reflection. Time is spent discussing how scripture can be incorporated into daily life. Each session sends the members home feeling inspired, instructed, and renewed.”

“Our group has been together since Season One. We can pick up where each other leaves off. Every week we all add something to our group by speaking or just listening. My faith has grown stronger, becoming part of something bigger.”

“Just today, as my daily obligations of work and family became a bit overwhelming and chaotic, I was comforted by the thought that I had my ARISE meeting tonight. ARISE has given me time to be with good friends and most of all, time to pray and be in the presence of God.”

ARISE has helped me grow in Christ and has allowed me to help others grow in the faith…by listening, by actively participating, and by opening my heart and soul for not only my benefit but for the spiritual enrichment of others as well.”

“I joined this season of ARISE at what felt like a low point in my prayer life and I wasn’t sure if I could finish the six weeks, but after each week I felt closer and closer to Jesus and by the last week I didn’t want the season to end.”

“It [ARISE] is one of the most uplifting spiritual experiences I have ever had. It is nice to know that there are others out there who feel the same way about their faith that you do!!! It is companionship in your community.”

“When I am with our group I can discuss my faith with other members, getting feedback and good advice, instead of hearing the usual criticisms and /or anti-Catholic speeches from others around me. I have learned more about what it means to be a Catholic, and how others feel about their faith and their spiritual journeys. So being a member of this group has been very refreshing, so inspiring and educational.”

“The ARISE format and the small group environment encouraged each of us to share our own personal faith journey with its challenges as well as successes.”

ARISE is a great opportunity to meet parishioners in a variety of age brackets. The readings are timely and help one to focus on the important parts of an issue.”

ARISE has helped me to feel more a part of the St. Mary’s community.”

“Our group has developed into a mini-community. We look forward to seeing [each] other and exchanging our faith journeys. We share a faith energy which broadens our outlook on both personal spiritual growth and awareness of the needs of a much greater faith community. We are cheerleaders for each other and supportive listeners. We gently challenge one another. We’ll miss one another and our weekly meetings until Season Five begins.”

“This is one soul-searching program, not to be missed.”

“…participating in my small [ARISE] faith group each Sunday evening for the six weeks of each season has been one of the best experiences as a member of St. Mary’s. I have met people who I may not have met otherwise, although I attend weekly Masses as well as some special Masses and realize that there are wonderful and faith filled people who are seeking a greater connection with God and the church as I have been. I have formed friendships and fellowship partners, which had not happened in the 20+ years that I have attended St. Mary’s. I have developed a greater appreciation for my faith and St. Mary’s. Since we meet on Sundays, it is the end of one week and the start of the new week. So I have the opportunity to reflect on the highs and lows of the past week and get a boost for the upcoming week with new hope, new visions of service to God, the church, the community and the family.”–Glenette

ARISE has been a great experience for me socially and spiritually…[ARISE] has given me a greater depth and appreciation of our Catholic faith. This, I believe, is a direct result of the content of our ARISE meetings wherein we make time for prayer, scripture reading and discussion. Often, our discussions focus on how the scriptural themes are seen in our own personal experiences. Sometimes, these have been truly amazing reflections; but have always a source of awareness of how God lives and works in even the smallest elements of our daily lives – and I know I’m not alone in that regard. Additionally, the program has repeatedly prompted our group (like all ARISE groups) to turn our conversations into ideas for small, concrete actions that bring God’s message beyond our meetings. These activities have often proven to be amazingly simple and yet greatly rewarding. But whatever the specific action, I can honestly say that I’ve been truly moved by the enthusiastic ways that members of all ARISE groups have responded with acts of charity and prayer.”–Ron

“… my faith is a very important part of my life. I am always looking for additional programs and ways to study Gods word and to water the garden that is my soul so I can grow in my faith and find new ways to put it into action…this program [ARISE] has been about growing and strengthening my relationship with God. Think about the meaningful relationships in your life. With each one there is an exchange, an interaction, and an action…those we are close to come to mind often, those we are closest to come to mind daily…and those who are closer still…moment to moment. They are with us in the background of our daily comings and goings. This is the kind of relationship I seek with God. Though I am not completely there yet the ARISE program has made the awareness for God’s presence in my life grow so very much.” –Judy

“I consider myself a faithful Catholic who embraces prayer as a means to grow closer to God. Often, though, I would pray alone. I took the opportunity to join ARISE in October 2008 in order to experience my faith with other Catholic adults. I found that I received far more than I ever anticipated. I have experienced the power of sharing faith with those seeking growth on their own spiritual journey. My prayer life has also matured – “where 2 or more are gathered in my name, I will be there” – means more to me now.”–Therese

ARISE has given us the privilege of connecting and praying with parishioners of our worshiping community outside of St Mary’s. Our once per week meetings always lead to the offering of heartfelt ideas, opinions, and perspectives on the topic and readings of the week. Regardless of where we are in our Catholic Faith journey, our experience as a result of being active in ARISE has enriched our lives, broadened our views, and have brought us closer to Jesus and to each other. We really feel uplifted at the end of the evening and that feeling stays with us, carrying us through the week. We happen to host the group’s meeting at our home and although they are not a part of the ARISE meeting, we enjoy exposing our children to such a positive and spiritual activity.”–Tia and Nelson

Reflections of participants in ARISE Season Five, We Are the Good News!, held during Fall 2010:

“I am more committed to the discipline of trying to see what Jesus calls me to do ‘in the present moment’…the discipline of awareness.”

“Small Christian Communities work!”

“It has been one of the best experiences of my life!! I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given to join. I am definitely a better Christian because of the ARISE program.”

“The format of ARISE was appealing in a number of ways…thoughtful content…a practical time frame…possibility of personal growth…expanded knowledge of the [scripture] readings used…better understanding of views other than mine.”

“The idea of evangelizing always seemed somewhat intimidating and only for those brilliant theologians, but I realize that we all can carry the good news in the way we conduct ourselves on a daily basis.”

“It helped me to become more aware of how our actions influence others.”

[ARISE] “reinforced existing beliefs and strengthened my faith in action.”

“Companions on the journey…we are not alone in our search for Christ.”

“Awesome program which created an opportunity to meet other fellow parishioners (and get to know them in a very meaningful way) whom I otherwise would probably not have met.”

“Reaffirmed in my mind that for me evangelization is more quiet example than overt proselytization.”

“Excellent program, church should be promoting similar programs that allow for exploration of and expressions of faith in an intimate and inclusive setting.”

“I really enjoyed my group discussion, interaction, honesty, and different perspectives regarding each lesson. I’m sorry that ARISE is ending, but I’m confident that we’ll continue our faith journey going forward together.”

“Our discussions gave me the courage to feel more comfortable talking in public about Christ.”

“I’ve grown spiritually and have lifelong friends in Christ at St. Mary’s.”