Alpha in a Catholic Context
What is Alpha?
Alpha is a parish tool for evangelisation based on hospitality, sharing and open conversation. The same Alpha content is run all over the world, by Christians of all traditions, and provides a common expression of proclamation, service and witness. Millions of people have tried Alpha all around the world in 112 languages.
Alpha is a tool to introduce people to an initial proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ – the kerygma. As Pope Francis says, ‘Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation.’ (EG, 165).
Alpha takes people on a journey often leading to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. It enables people to ask their questions, share ideas, build friendships and experience the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Alpha is for everyone; all backgrounds, all contexts, all ages. Alpha is particularly attracting many young people who are asking the question, ‘Is there more to life than this?’
“We cannot forget that evangelisation is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ... Many of them are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. All of them have a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone.”
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 15
How it works
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, usually run over eleven weeks by lay leaders on behalf of the parish. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. No two Alphas look the same, but generally they have three key things in common: food, a talk and good conversation.
First up there’s
Offering a meal or snack is an essential part of Alpha; eating food together is great for building community. Most sessions start with food and a chance get to know each other.
The small groups provide the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas on the topic, and to build trust and friendship. The role of the host (leader) is to facilitate discussion, inviting guests to share openly and honestly, without any criticism or judgment. The groups often develop into small Christian communities within the parish.