The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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September 22, 2000 Issue
Renew 2000

St. Therese, Appleton, reaps Renew benefit

Stronger interest in adult education and a growing sense of community result

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

When Season I of Renew 2000 began in fall of 1998, St. Therese Parish in Appleton had 110 participants. The number has dropped to 70, but what the parish Renew program lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality, says Chuck Desten, co-coordinator with his wife, Dee.

"Our number is a good percentage for the parish, but I thought we would double from the first season," he said. "Our parish has a large number of older members. Many are snowbirds who travel for the winter, so the schedule didn't work out, but Renew has been very good for our parish."

A stronger interest in adult education programs and a growing sense of community are benefits from Renew, said Dee.

"Many of the groups want to continue to meet," she said. "We have a group of couples who meet on Monday nights, who are known as the SOS group. They are getting things started in the parish. They have planned a spaghetti dinner and a Bingo night. It's been a neat experience."

The 70 participants at St. Therese make up eight small faith groups. The ages in some groups vary, while others have brought together parishioners from particular age groups.

"We have one group where the average age is in the 80s," said Dee.

"I believe the greatest benefit has been the spiritual sharing that has happened within the small groups," said Chuck. "I'm hoping that the second thing continues to be the outgrowth of participation. We are planting a seed."

The Renew groups at St. Therese used the lectionary based booklets and readings last season and will do so again in Season V.

"We have followed the Renew International materials closely and it has worked well," said Chuck.

The husband and wife team has enjoyed their Renew experience as parish leaders.

"I can remember attending the first meeting in Green Bay," said Dee. "It's hard to believe that it has been three years since we started. We do everything together, so it's worked well."

"We were excited to become involved when we first heard about Renew," said Chuck. "It's been perfect. She was here to take the calls. It really has been great."

Positive feedback from Renew group members is among their rewards.

"I'm hearing people say they never realized they had so much in common with others spiritually," said Chuck. "They have shared experiences with the group and have realized that they have had similar experiences. It has brought people together."

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