RENEW Renewed!

I saw at the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter), that RENEW seems to be slithering back!

Many of you don’t remember RENEW. It is a program that was going to save the Church!

Not so much.

Way back in the depths of time the present-day Official Parodohymnodist of this blog, now Fr. Tim Ferguson wrote a great bit about RENEW (to the tune of the Burt Bacharach song, I’ll New Fall In Love Again). Here’s the first verse, from memory. Hopefully, the Parodohymnodist will jump in.

What do we do when we do RENEW?
We get together and we drink some coffee.
We read some Scripture and we hug each other.
I’ll… never go to Mass again.
I’ll never go to Mass again.

He has another song which mentions RENEW… too.   It has to do with some of his favorite things.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Adrienne Regina says:

    “What do we do when we do RENEW?…
    I’ll… never go to Mass again.
    I’ll never go to Mass again.”

    And I did not! I never went back to Mass until Summorum Pontificum .

  2. anilwang says:

    Does anyone have any information on this current incarnation of RENEW so I’m aware of what to look out for?

    I looked quickly over their web site ( ) and saw nothing to raise any red flags.

    The Catechism, sacraments, and Mary all seem to be at least well regarded and referenced and I didn’t see any references to the Fishrap, FutureChurch, or LGBTUVWXYZ (or whatever acronym they go by these days) “ministries”.

    Is it because they’re wishy-washy like “Alpha in the Catholic Context”?…Hazy Mere Christianity “milk” instead of the “meat” of Catholicism? (1 Corinthians 3:2)

  3. benedetta says:

    Oh no, please no…why bring back something whose effects were for ill?

  4. Mark says:

    Is this in any way related to Christ Renews His Parish?

  5. Elizabeth D says:

    Someone enlighten (endarken?) the rest of us about what is RENEW?

  6. Midwest St. Michael says:

    This should help you, Elizabeth. On the left column, click on RENEW.


  7. ScholaLady says:

    Renew was going on the year I became Catholic. I remember one day our pastor asked me if I would be interested in hosting a Renew group at our house. My husband (a lifelong Catholic) was standing behind him vigorously shaking his head “no” at me.

  8. un-ionized says:

    Mark, Renew is different than Christ Renews His Parish (called “chirp”).

  9. rtjl says:

    I endured Renew many years ago when it was in vogue. Recently I succeeded in avoiding “Arise Together in Christ” (which is kind of Renew II, put together by the same people) for 5 seasons. I got snagged into the sixth season against my better judgment by being made to feel that I was not being a team player. I regretted every minute of it.

    Our diocese has turned to small group faith sharing time and time again as the answer to our problems completely ignoring the fact that this approach just does not work. You cannot revitalize the church by bringing people together and inviting them to read isolated passages of scripture and then asking them to share how they “feel” about what they just read and what it “means to them” while also completely ruling out the possibility that some people might have something to teach others and that some people might actually need to be taught.

    What is needed right now is real discipleship training, in small groups or otherwise, that includes solid catechesis. Small group faith sharing does NOT create or grow disciples and it does not revitalize churches. Period.

    We have a new bishop now. Hopefully he will deep six the small group faith sharing model that has been so attractive to the older members of our diocese and has zero traction among the younger members of our diocese.

    I would encourage you to Google “Why Churches Should Euthanize Small Groups”.

  10. majuscule says:

    I belong to a small weekly group that is reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church out loud, paragraph by paragraph under the guidance of a Rome educated priest. Besides having the opportunity for discussion and clarification we have become friends. It’s more than that but I can’t explain. We are people that Father can count on when he needs assistance.

    After more than a year (or maybe longer than that) we are at least two thirds of the way through the Catechism…and wondering how we can keep this group going when we’re done!

    By the way, this is not a program. We are simply reading and discussing. The only material needed: the Catechism.

  11. Benedict Joseph says:

    Doesn’t everyone find it radically RELEVANT? I mean, you know, like intrinsically?
    They really are going back over the edge…
    This isn’t getting any better soon.

  12. TimG says:

    rtjl says”What is needed right now is real discipleship training, in small groups or otherwise, that includes solid catechesis. Small group faith sharing does NOT create or grow disciples and it does not revitalize churches. Period.”

    This is spot on. Fortunately, here in Eastern Iowa our pastor has monthly Adult Catechesis talks where he has spoken about all sorts of great topics. This is not Adult CCD or Renew, this is Adult Real Meat and Potatoes Training (TM) that should be a reqt in all dioceses.

  13. Elizabeth D says:

    From what I can see the basic idea sounds reasonably good, but obviously any such thing needs good materials and leadership by faithful and knowledgeable Catholics. If it is organized by Call to Action then obviously it would be horrific. I lead a spiritual life book study group at my parish that has increasingly strong participation. We actually study and learn real knowledge, it is not “how do you feel about this?” We also grow in friendship. I feel that being part of these things can help people to have more of a network of friends and connections in the Church and to have more of a sense of belonging and being at home in the Church and “thinking together with” other Catholics and the Church. Sometimes converts in particular feel in need of this. Catholicism is a whole culture, there is a worldview and way of life that is not just handed on by attending Mass and participating in the Sacraments.

  14. EeJay says:

    Sounds awful.

  15. AnnTherese says:

    Depending on the material, theology, process, and leadership, small faith groups can be very effective in catechizing, nurturing community, and deepening prayer and spiritual life. (I’m speaking of the model, not “Renew” specifically.) This was the practice of the early Church we read about in Acts. It continues to be a real spiritual resource for some Catholics. The Holy Spirit works in marvelous ways!

  16. APX says:

    You know something’s not good when the USCCB gives it a poor and very critical review:

    If we’re going to “renew” anything, why don’t we “renew” that which has worked for hundreds of years, produced thousands of saints?

  17. Just to put a time frame on this, it was actually called RENEW 2000. Of course, if they still called it that, it would show its age.

    I wouldn’t criticize small groups too much. If the masses are heading towards all kinds of nutty ideas, small groups may be our only alternative, at least for a time. Jesus used groups of just two to start spreading his message to a hostile world. A well-constituted family led by sensible parents could be considered another “small group” as well. The size of the group isn’t what counts; it’s what the group is doing that matters.

  18. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    Ah RENEW. I was one of the “youth representatives” to our diocesan RENEW program, and went to sessions all over the diocese, where, with great fanfare, we were told how RENEW would deepen the life of faith in the hearts of all believers and our parishes, by following these steps, would once again be strong, vibrant, beacons of faith – all we had to do is root out any lingering traditional liturgical practices, organize lots and lots of small groups, sing contemporary songs and plant lots of trees. Thirty years after RENEW was rolled out in that diocese, it remains a shrinking community, with few ordinations to the priesthood (and the younger priests, when they are ordained, seem to spend a couple years in frustrated ministry before asking to be transferred somewhere else).

    I believe the original full lyrics of the song went like this:

    What do we do when we do RENEW?
    We get together and we read some scripture
    we drink some coffee and we hug each other.
    I’m never going to Mass agaaaaain,
    I’m never going to Mass again.

    Don’t tell me what it’s all about
    the words we say don’t have any meaning,
    one of these days you’ll wake up and see,
    we’re laying out a new heresy!

    What do we do when we do RENEW?
    We get together, then we write some scripture
    we drink more coffee then we hug each other.
    I’m never going to Mass agaaaaaaain,
    I’m never going to Mass again.

  19. Charivari Rob says:




    Lots’a bitterness and contempt.

    A bit surprising, really. I don’t know much much about Renew International and Arise!, and nothing about the Renew 2000 that Andrew mentioned – but the Renew I was involved in was good. 2000 wasn’t the original, though – that’d be off by almost 20 years.

    I was in Renew in my hometown parish for a couple of years around 1983, and it must’ve been in circulation at least a couple of years before it got to our neck of the woods. I recall a good dynamic of teens and adult moderator-hosts.

  20. CPT TOM says:

    In our Parish we have Alpha. It sounds just like RENEW, and Father Ferguson’s song could fit, just scratch out RENEW and put ALPHA. None of this stuff works out well. Been watching these small group, pseudo protestant feel goody kind of groups fail for most of my life. Too much turning inward and not enough actual teaching of the faith.

  21. RWG says:

    I have seen small groups work exceptionally well, particularly when doing Lectio Divina together. I’ve also seen the down side of small groups. Frankly Alpha, while it has it’s faults, is far better than Renew. Larger parishes can benefit from the friendship that smaller groups can foster. I’m currently worshipping at a large parish and wish there were more opportunities for small group interaction.

  22. graytown says:

    An old Dionne Warwick classic.
    Is there a parady of “Do you know the way to San Jose ?”

    Speaking of San Jose –
    On a few occasions I’ve had the opportunity to attend daily Mass at the St Joseph Cathedral.
    A beautiful place – but no kneelers !
    I knelt on the floor.

  23. JonPatrick says:

    The song mentioning RENEW sung to the tune of “a few of my favorite things” may be found here:

  24. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    graytown, in fact, there was a parody of “Do you know the way to San Jose,” written about that dissenting parish, St. Joan of Arc, in Minneapolis:

    Do you know the way to Joan of Arc?
    I’m about to leave the Catholic Church.
    I’ve got lots of friends from Joan of Arc
    they’re now Luth’rens and Presbyterians.

    Aggie’s* is a place for High Mass
    but they’re out of touch with modern times.
    In a week or two we’ll ordain a nun,
    then we’ll have some fun!
    We don’t say Mass,
    but we’ve got class,
    We’re on a lark
    at Joan of Arc.

    *Aggie’s, of course, referred to the great St. Agnes parish in St. Paul.

  25. Fr. Ó Buaidhe says: 00:00 – 00:19 (weird stuff following – best missed)

    “Renew! Renew!”

  26. un-ionized says:

    Oh, gee thanks, everybody for starting this Dionne Warwick Burt Bachrach festival in my head. “What do you get when you fall in love, a kiss and a chance to catch pneumonia…”

  27. rtjl says:

    I should clarify. I don’t object to small group activities as such. It is specifically small group “faith sharing” that I have little use for. Even then, it is really only faith sharing separated from any content or any kind of vigorous discussion that I dislike. When the only thing you are allowed to do is share “how you feel” or “what it means to you” but never discuss what it means period – well, I just don’t get the point.

  28. benedetta says:

    We should look to what young people increasingly respond to and model any “programs” based on that…what experiences motivate them to consider their eternal vocation as Catholics? We know this much: reverent, beautiful, transcendent liturgy…sacraments worthily offered…solid catechesis. Otherwise, the small groups tend to degenerate into complaint fests about what’s wrong with the world and how solutions are just a political utopia away. Small groups, in order to bear good fruit, need a foundation in orthodoxy and reverent worship, in prayer.

  29. WYMiriam says:

    RENEW renewed? Or just warmed over?

  30. Montenegro says:

    I always think of Logan’s Run:

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