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
"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
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,"
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
"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."