RENEW International recently completed its four-year engagement in the Diocese of Amarillo where parishes were engaged in Why Catholic? Journey Through the Catechism and Â¿Por quÃ© ser catÃ³lico?
Over the years, RENEWâ€™s presentersâ€”Sr. Kass Collins, Alma Garcia, Sr. Pat Thomas, Dr. Laura Zane Kolmar, Anne Scanlan, and Manuel Hernandezâ€”travelled to this mission diocese, which is small in number of parishes yet vast in area. There, they were met with enthusiasm by parish teams in both English and Spanish. To support this effort, RENEW partnered with Catholic Extension, an outreach organization that funds pastoral initiatives in less economically-developed areas of the U.S. Catholic Church.
Recently, Bishop Patrick Zurek extended his gratitude to RENEWâ€™s staff in a gracious personal letter of thanks. He described the significant blessings of Why Catholic? for the people of his dioceseâ€”increased understanding of the Catholic faith, the desire to speak of faith to family and friends, more integration in parish life, and friendships among those of different ethnic groups.
Few things are as easily taken for granted as clean water, and that fact prompted a small Christian community in New Jersey to help their brothers and sisters half-way around the world.
According to Jackie McNulty of St. Mary/St. Andrew Parish in Bayonne, the small group that was experiencing its second season of ARISE Together in Christ from RENEW International was determined to turn faith into action.
During the third session of that ARISE season, the group was meditating on the story in the Gospel of John about the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
“We were all so moved by the story,’’ Jackie said, “that we were inspired to donate some bottled water to the local food pantry and bring it with us to Mass the following Sunday. Our entire group participated in this activity.”
The group was so motivated, that they wanted to act in a more far-reaching way to bring water to people in need—perhaps by making a donation to an organization that provides water resources in the developing world—and one of the members, Maisie Prussak was chosen to bring the idea to the pastor, Fr. Peter Wehrle.
Why Catholic? participants in Delhi (pronounced DEL-hi) in Ontario, Canada, took advantage of a weekend fall festival to show the whole community the enthusiasm surrounding the faith-sharing process from RENEW International.
RENEW International, a Catholic not-for-profit organization based in Plainfield, N.J., held its fifteenth annual fundraising gala on June 5, 2014 at the Pleasantdale Chateau, West Orange, N.J. Sr. Terry Rickard, OP, RENEW International’s president and executive director, presented awards to four notable Catholics who have played a significant role in fostering RENEW International’s mission of spreading gospel values in daily life.
“We at RENEW International are truly blessed to pay tribute to the faithfulness, leadership, and service represented by these exemplary individuals,” Sr. Terry said. “They are models of Catholic commitment in their personal and professional lives, with a level of dedication that is exceptional.”
This year’s President's Award was given to Mr. Donald M. Daniels, chairman and co-founder of the Daniels Group, an employee benefits consulting and brokerage firm. Prior to starting the Daniels Group, Mr. Daniels spent 42 years at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, retiring as the chief executive officer in 1991. Mr. Daniels has been a leader in health care in the not-for-profit world, serving on more than 20 health-care boards of directors in a number of Catholic dioceses. He and his wife, Esther, are parishioners at Sacred Heart Parish in Bay Head, N.J. The President’s Award recognized Mr. Daniels’ support in advancing RENEW International’s mission of evangelization, spiritual renewal, and faith formation in dioceses and parishes.
People in need of food in a southeastern Missouri community can now get help close to home, thanks to members of a parish who have been taking part in a faith-sharing process from RENEW International.
Members of St. Denis Catholic Church in Benton—a rural city with nearly 900 residents —were prompted by their participation in ARISE Together in Christ to organize a food pantry in cooperation with three other churches in the area.
Msgr. Neil Connolly is the recipient of this year’s 2014 Msgr. Thomas A Kleissler Award. He will receive the award and be honored at RENEW International’s 15th Annual Gala on June 5, 2014. The award is named for RENEW’s co-founder and is given to a person or persons who exemplify one or more of the remarkable qualities of Father Tom:
“Walking the walk” became much more than a cliché when members of a parish in Texas participated in the first season of ARISE Together in Christ, a process of spiritual renewal and evangelization from RENEW International.
According to Racheal Garza, who leads the parish program, more than 350 men and women joined the small Christian communities at St. Michael Church in Levelland, a city of more than 13,000 people in the Diocese of Lubbock in the northwestern part of the state.
Each of the six sessions of an ARISE season invites participants to share their faith and then to put it into action in their everyday lives. That message wasn’t lost on the folks at St. Michael.
For example, Racheal said, she identified three women who were willing to create a “Giving Tree” in order to collect items for residents of a local nursing home. One of the women recruited a friend to help.
Anyone seeking a concrete example of the new evangelization can find one in Sebree, a little city in northwestern Kentucky.
That’s where Patti Gutiérrez discovered how an invitation via digital media could have unexpected results, touching not only active members of a parish but also Catholics who had stopped participating in the life of the church.
Patti is parish life coordinator at St. Michael Parish in Sebree, which is in the Diocese of Owensboro.
St. Michael, like many parishes in the diocese, is taking part in ARISE Together in Christ, the five-season faith-sharing process for small groups, one of the resources available from RENEW International.
After the parish had completed Season Two of ARISE,Patti took stock.
“Seeing that very few young adults had participated in our small groups,’’ Patti said, “I decided to brainstorm a few that I could invite personally.
“To my great surprise, I ended up with a list of twenty-four young couples that were somehow connected to our parish, but few actually attending Mass.
It would take more than a few hundred miles in this digital age to break up a faith-sharing group in Texas.
That point was made by a small Christian community in St. Mary’s Parish in Odessa, a city located in the Diocese of San Angelo in west Texas.
The group is participating in ARISE Together in Christ, a faith-sharing process from RENEW International consisting of five seasons of six sessions each.
According to the group leader, Lyd Reyes, one of the members, Janelle Woody, moved away—four hundred miles east, in fact, to Port Lavaca, which is situated on a bay off the Gulf of Mexico.
According to its web page, a parish in the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky, is dedicated to “continuing the mission of Jesus Christ through word, worship, and service.’’
And parishioners who have been participating in ARISE Together in Christ, the faith-sharing process from RENEW International, have taken a new look at what service means and can’t wait to see where it will lead them next.
The parish is St. Romuald in Hardinsburg, which is about 70 miles southwest of Louisville, where 11 small groups completed Season Two of ARISE last spring.