ARISE Inspires Prison Ministry Project
A group of ARISE Together in Christ participants from St. John the Evangelist in Wellesley, MA tell the inspiring story of facilitating Season One of ARISE, Encountering Christ Today at a women’s prison in the Boston area. They shared not only the program's effect on the incarcerated women, but also how their own faith was impacted by the experience.
Three volunteers taught the program in four, two-hour sessions over consecutive weeks this past September, with between 30 to 44 women participating (about half attended all four sessions).
Their need and desire for spiritual education and direction was evidenced by strong attendance, active discussion, and deep and penetrating questions. The ARISE format and high level of attendance was a unique community building experience for the prisoners. They could escape an atmosphere of infighting and participate in a large faith-sharing group by learning, listening, and understanding each other. They do not experience this environment in smaller group bible studies or one-on-one tutoring sessions.
Our experience was most interesting, uplifting and educational. We were humbled to be of service to the prisoners who were anything but stereotypical inmates. They were educated, respectful, pleasant, hungry to learn, eager to share, interested in the program content, and curious about our views and opinions. The majority of inmates had some background with and desire to learn the Catholic faith and everyone wanted to try to get closer to God (the Holy Spirit was working overtime with us).
Their questions were profound and focused on why to believe in God, how to have faith, how not to lose faith, etc. We believe we gained more than we gave. Our experience deepened our faith as we learned to evangelize and we, along with the inmates, shared our deeply personal thoughts and experiences about God. We have been blessed to learn, firsthand, how God uses "ordinary" people to do his work.
Learn more about RENEW International's ARISE Together in Christ.