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Alpha: A tool for encountering Jesus

'Today missionary activity still represents the greatest challenge for the Church, and the missionary task must remain foremost. ... we cannot passively and calmly wait in our church buildings. ... We need to move from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry.'—Evangelii Gaudium §15

 

About Alpha  

A series of sessions which explore the Christian faith, Alpha is typically run over eleven weeks, with the process comprising a shared meal, film and discussion. Each film looks at a different topic or faith question such as: ‘Is there more to life than this?' It is especially designed to create a conversational and communal exploration around the big questions of life. This tool is used to help people explore these questions in a safe and welcoming environment where it is hoped there is a conversion of heart or—for the already baptised—a recommitment to following Christ.
 
Thousands of parishes around the world already offer Alpha, which has been endorsed by many priests, bishops and cardinals including Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane and President of Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. 
 
'For many years now and in various parts of the world, Alpha has shown itself powerful in bringing faith alive in all kinds of people. Its focus is on Jesus, its method is simple and its appeal is wide-ranging. It is also well adapted for use in Catholic communities looking to provide the kind of ignition we need if we are to become a more missionary Church.'—Archbishop Mark Coleridge
 
Alpha equips both clergy and laity to effectively proclaim Jesus. Focusing on the Kerygma—the initial proclamation of the Good News—Alpha introduces participants to a personal encounter with Jesus.

'One of the advantages of Alpha is that it focuses on Kerygma. In the ancient Church, there was a clear distinction between the Kerygma and the Didache, the catechesis. The Kerygma was the starting point of faith, and the catechesis had to form the faith. But faith in itself blossoms only by hearing the Kerygma...'—Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household

 

Alpha in the Catholic Context

Alpha in a Catholic context has been growing quickly around Australia in recent years. In 2015, there were 14 registered courses; in 2016—73; in 2017—190 and in 2018—283. In the Archdiocese of Melbourne, the increasing growth and interest in Alpha as a tool for exploring questions of meaning—and for re-invigorating the faith of those already baptised—is indicative of a desire by parishes to intentionally grow missionary disciples.
 
Growing missionary disciples was Jesus' final directive to his apostles in the great commission. A proven evangelisation initiative, Alpha is being used to great effect in urban, regional and rural settings using the key components of warm community hospitality, love of God and the humble and joy-filled witness of the local team members.
 
Everything you need to run Alpha can be downloaded for free. Alpha presents the core of the Christian faith, the Kerygma, in a welcoming and friendly way which appeals to millennials, and seeks to address their questions and concerns.
 

Building an Alpha Network for Melbourne Parishes

This year, the Archbishop's Office for Evangelisation will establish a parish Alpha network for interested parishes to liaise, share experiences and discern ongoing support. Parishes who are interested in finding out more please contact Mary Ryan (Co-ordinator, Adult Faith Formation) on 9926 5603 or via mary.ryan@cam.org.au.
 
 
 

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