More than 500 people in Holy Spirit, Saint Anthony, Holy Family, and Saint Elizabeth parishes participated in the inaugural season of ARISE Together in Christ in the Diocese of San Jose. With the theme of Encountering Christ Today, more than 70 small faith-sharing groups formed and met weekly for six weeks, including meetings held in English, Vietnamese and Spanish. ARISE participants encountered Christ in breaking the Word, in sharing personal faith stories and by responding to the Spirit’s call to action.
Saint Elizabeth’s pastor Father Justin Le shared the success of this first season of ARISE: “The small faith sharing groups at our parish built community, provided healing and renewal of faith. People shared their story. It was a positive experience.” Other participants provided positive feedback about their ARISE experiences. From sharing the Gospels to sharing personal journeys, groups readily opened their hearts to each other in faith and trust. The support of sharing and praying helped revive personal and spiritual growth in many people.
On the experience of encountering others, participants said:
- “The Holy Spirit has brought us together.”
- “An awesome experience of people sharing openly about personal struggles and triumphs both in daily life and in our faith.”
- “We learned we are not alone on our journeys and that made us stronger.”
- “We pray for one another and our intentions.”
- On deepening spirituality, participants said:
- “I experience God’s presence not only through the Bible but through everyone in the group.”
- “My faith grows stronger. I get to know Him more deeply.”
- “Sharing with one another makes us closer to Christ.”
- “ARISE experience has helped me to open my heart and my mind to know God more.”
Regarding personal growth, participants commented:
- “Very helpful, encouraging, inspiring and motivating.”
- “Learning to be a good listener.”
- “Enlightening, educating, calming.”
- “Just starting to learn how to forgive with all my mind, heart and soul.”
- “Learning patience and how to facilitate across different generations and personality types.”
Besides activating personal growth, prayer and healing relationships, at Saint Elizabeth the ARISE groups assisted with larger activities including the parish Thanksgiving food drive and providing stationery and reading glasses for the incarcerated at Elmwood Detention Facility.
Existing and new faith-sharing groups are reforming soon for Lent in the four parishes including Saint Mary, Los Gatos. All groups are open to both returning and new participants, and the Diocesan ARISE program anticipates continuing to grow in faith and the Spirit.