FORT WAYNE — Young adults across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have found a welcoming and engaging environment with the ARISE Together In Christ experience. Soon, across the diocese ARISE groups will be making arrangements and registering participants for the upcoming third session — that will explore the Church’s role in social justice issues.
From college students, to young adults who recently located to the diocese for their careers, ARISE offered a sense of involvement in their faith community.
Nicholas Cooper, a student at Trine University, participated in ARISE through St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Angola.
“I wanted to get to know more adults in the parish community,” Cooper told Today’s Catholic in an email interview. “I am involved in Newman Catholic Fellowship through the university, but also wanted to become involved in the community.”
Cooper said, “As a young adult/college student, leading a group of primarily married couples, I can say that I was most surprised to discover how similar our faith journeys and personal lives had been.”
“Even though I was in a different stage of life than most of the couples,” he noted, “the difficulties and joys in life seemed to stem from similar challenges faced and how they were overcome, or are overcoming them. It was truly the Holy Spirit that had brought us together as a group to grow in faith and fellowship.”
Cooper said, “(ARISE) helped me to grow my faith in what I would call a practical or everyday application. To learn from the couples who have much more experience in life, who have experienced Christ in their lives in various ways, and to also share your youthful encounters with Christ, is an exchange full of hope”
Diane Nguyen was part of St. Pius’ young adult ARISE group and who works at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC). She was seeking involvement in a faith community.
“Fellowship has played an important role in growing in my faith, and I was looking to find a new spiritual home in Indiana,” Nguyen said, who had relocated to the South Bend-Mishawaka area.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how genuinely welcoming the participants involved in ARISE were to a new face, especially the facilitator of my group,” Nguyen said. “It is seemingly obvious that faith sharing communities should be welcoming to strangers, but unfortunately, I have not always been met with such hospitality when first joining a group in the past. However, I felt at home at the ARISE group.”
Nguyen noted how ARISE helped to build her faith. “It’s common to think that I may be the only one going through certain trials or having certain thoughts and ideas,” she said. “In reality though, there are so many other people who experience similar encounters. It lifts a certain burden to be able to share these experiences with others who hold similar beliefs. I’ve learned to think about certain aspects of my faith from a different perspective.”
Nguyen said, “Until I started my position at SJRMC, I was always immersed in a secular environment. Having a faith sharing group with other Catholics allowed me to explore issues/topics from a Catholic perspective. Even after working at SJRMC, which is a Catholic institution, there are not very many moments in which I can contemplate through a faith lens with others. ARISE allowed me to do that.”
Nguyen offered these words with other young adults, “Being in fellowship with other young Catholics helped me bring my faith out into a safe public forum to challenge, reaffirm, and spark new ideas about the beliefs I hold dear. In addition, I made some wonderful friends who made my experience living in Indiana as memorable as it was.”
Erin Heckber, who recently married Travis Heckber over the summer and works at Redeemer Radio in Fort Wayne, was active in the St. Aloysius ARISE group, which was organized by her husband.
“What surprised me about ARISE was that I truly realized that being in a small Christian community is a true blessing,” Heckber said. “Through high school and even college we are able to join our school’s youth group, Newman group, etc.; but once I left those surroundings you didn’t have those small groups as much anymore. ARISE brought people together, some who we have known for some time and then brought in some new faces who are close friends now.”
“ARISE gave me a deeper appreciation for the richness of the Scripture that we would read each meeting,” she said. “Giving each reading or reflection a different perspective that I might not of thought about before.”
“I would really encourage any young adult to prayerfully consider participating in ARISE,” Heckber encouraged. “Sometimes it is hard to take the first step, but you won’t have regrets once you did. It is a wonderful was to join into a Christian community where you grow together.”
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