ST. BONIFACE — RISE Together in Christ is a journey of evangelization and faith made in small groups. The young Franco-Manitoban Anne-Marie Dizengremel is living this experience.
Since the fall of 2014, Dizengremel, a 17-year-old Catholic, has been meeting weekly with four or five young people ranging from 14 - 18 years of age. They come together to pray and reflect on the gospel.
These young people from La Broquerie have formed a group, ARISE Together in Christ, a program sponsored in October 2012 by St. Boniface Archbishop Albert LeGatt. Geared toward evangelization and spiritual renewal, the sessions are spread over a three-year period during which participants gather in one another’s homes to break open the Word and share how they are living their lives.
“It’s fun to be able to talk with other young people and to hear their opinions about the faith and so to deepen our own faith,” Dizengremel says. “We always have an opening prayer, then we talk about the questions in the booklet we each have. Sometimes, we launch into other topics related to the topic at hand.”
One of the members, Jacinthe Wiebe, followed a training session to be the group leader.
Lillian Culumovic, co-ordinator for Religious Education and Evangelization for the archdiocese, says, “There are 170 ARISE Together in Christ groups in the diocese involving about 2,000 people of all ages and every walk of life. Most of these are mixed groups, made up of people of all ages, but the La Broquerie group decided to gather only young people. It’s great to see them so involved. That’s the way our church will be renewed.”
ARISE Together in Christ helps Dizengremel deepen her faith.
“The meetings are always very challenging,” she says. “They really make me think about my faith. I’ve made several retreats, but ARISE gives me a more powerful experience because we are in small groups which help us really get to know one another, and we are in our own environment, our own community.”
This spiritual experience happens through sharing reflections on the Word of God, but also through the challenges the group raises each week. “It might be serving mass as a group, sending a letter to someone we’ve not spoken to for a long time, or whatever response we might make to the gospel passage,” Dizengremel comments. “It helps to reflect on what we are doing in our everyday lives.”
As Culumovic points out, the gatherings are a great tool for evangelization.
“If a member meets someone who has had an initial encounter with Jesus Christ, or a deepening experience, he or she can invite that person to come to the meetings, answer his or her questions and even accompany him or her to church. This is a friendlier approach and far less intimidating.”
The groups are discerning to find another name since the ARISE Together
in Christ program belongs to RENEW International, with which the Archdiocese
of St. Boniface had a three-year contract that has ended. But even under another
name “our group plans to continue to meet,” states Dizengremel.
“The church is called to go out from the church building into the streets,” concludes Culumovic. “That’s what we’ve done with ARISE Together in Christ.”