have any of you had any experience with the alpha course/ taken it? helped lead it?
my parish is wanting to start it soon, I’ve heard of it but never taken it before. they also want volunteers.
I realize that it’s technically not a specifically catholic tool but it’s supposed to be really basic that most Christians can agree on contents. would there be anything problematic doctrinally? I guess if catholic parishes host it, probably not right?
I’m thinking of helping out but just wanted to know if anyone had anything to say about it before I did so
Angel, do you have any idea why the parish is not using Catholic materials for renewal?
I’m mean, if you’re going to spend money on a program and rain people, why reinvent the wheel to adapt materials. There’s SO MUCH good Catholic content out there.
Is yours a Charismaticically inclined parish? Or do they want to be?
they usually do, which is why I was a bit surprised by this. for example, the parish is also running one of fr. Baron’s cahtolicism series soon as well
that being said, I actually thought alpha was catholic because I’ve heard it promoted at conferences and such before. only found out it wasn’t today when I was trying to read up on it.
I don’t really have a problem with it if there is no conflicting teaching. i don’t know if the parish is trying to become more carasmatic. or maybe they are trying to outreach more to the surrounding neighborhood, who knows
My daughter helps with the Alpha program in her parish and is going to London for further training in the fall. It is fine for Catholics as it has been adapted for Catholics. As far as I have heard it is a highly successful program in getting people back to church and engaged in their parish. So far she says they have had 800 people go through the program and their Diocese is very interested in implementing it in the rest of the diocese.
She has never mentioned to me that it is charismatic, though, what people mean by that varies, so I can’t say. I do know my daughter is not a charismatic, although I believe her priest may be. I will say that her parish is one of the most engaged and dynamic parishes I have ever been to, and Alpha has contributed to that. I wish with all my heart my parish had this, I have seen firsthand how beneficial it is for Evangelization, and getting people engaged in their parish.
Yes it is charismatic in emphasis, coming as it does from what in would call a ‘soft charismatic’ church in the CofE. So, no wild manifestations, but there is great emphasis put on the Holy Spirit day about halfway through the course, where people pray to receive the Holy Spirit and are gently encouraged to experience it physically.
Personally I have always been a little baffled that Catholics use the lowest-common-denominator approach of the Alpha course when there is so much distinctively Catholic teaching about. As I understand it, the Catholic element is a ‘bolt on’ to the main course. I honestly don’t know what Catholic distinctiveness it covers.
In short, there’s nowt particularly wrong with Alpha, but why would a Catholic church have a frozen, preformed beef patty when they could get a three course meal elsewhere?
So you are just helping. Have the main organizers been trained to use this module? They should be - it is about a couple of days course as to what, why and how of the Alpha.
It is very basic Christian teaching, nothing that contradict Catholicism but it is not very Catholic either. The program’s purpose is an introduction to Christianity thus instead of one does the evangelizing, the program has its own speaker shown on screen and giving the input.
Thus you can bring those who are interested in Christianity and as it is not supposed to be threatening, participants can be quite relax. The important factor is the dynamic - it is ongoing for some say, twelve weeks, and each session starts with a fellowship of simple meal, then listen to talk (on screen) and then participants are divided into small group discussion about the talk. There are guide questions that need to be discussed on.
If you are a helper, you are more a facilitator, with registration, setting up the venue, greeter and as one of the members in group discussion, albeit incognito. The discussion is very free, not a teaching but allowing participant to speak out whatever that strike them. Over time there will be bond in friendship.
Alpha course is not charismatic. It is very natural. There is great effort to ensure that it remains so, otherwise it defeats its own purpose.
There would be follow up after the initial Alpha, and for those, you can have purely Catholic input - like Sacraments, prayers, Bible or the Catholic Church. Yes, Bishop Baron has a series of talks by him, or theologian like Scott Hann.
It allows participants the opportunity to come to church, make friends and over time may decide to enter Church life or be baptized for the non-Catholics or if they decide to they can enter RCIA first.
I knew a lady who I had supported in leaving a lesbian lifestyle as she knew it was against the Law of God and knew my faith. She attended an Alpha course in the UK to get into church life again. They made an occasion of each meeting with a meal she said was beautifully presented. A really welcoming atmosphere.This was Church of England which we both were then.
I had never heard of it until then. An dI was deeply impressed. It made getting into Church life easy and attractive,
Yes, I can say it is a brilliantly thought of program, a good tool for evangelization. It is understandable that Catholics can be suspicious of its intent as the main initiators of the program are non-Catholics. I am not sure but since you say, COE, so that’s them.
They however try to make it common use for Christianity regardless of denominations. Thus even in the classic alpha (basic), Catholic theologian like Fr. Cantalamessa, the Papal preacher, is giving comment and endorsement. Mother Teresa is also featured.
The idea is not about competing getting converts but rather introduction to Christianity, perhaps with the general thinking that there are plenty of harvest there. So it is up to the users to look after their own participants.
There are parishioners who have used this program with much success in getting non-practicing and lapsed Catholics back to the Church and for those already practicing, to become more active in the Church. It is good support group as well. So it depends on the parish to make it works but it nevertheless an option.
Besides being done for general parishioners, Alpha program can be tailored to many categories of people like students, people at work and senior citizens like pensioners, conducted at their place or at hours convenient to them.
Not sure if you realise how this comes across?I fnd it deeply concerning. I was very very well nourished in my Church of England decades and had I read some of this may well have stayed where I was.
Not my intent to offend and I am talking specifically about Alpha as a course, not the CofE as a whole. I am CofE currently myself and sadly I’m not nourished at all and my church is very much a typical Alpha running church.
I was basically out of reach of any church for many years, not through my choosing , and learned then to lean on God before all else and in everything, for truly " I had nowhere to run to and no man cared for my soul "
God alone brought me from that and I leaned heavily on my Bible learning and prayer then .
I would not have stayed C of E for many reasons… It seemed then so much more… superficial somehow. Focussed on social activities which I cannot cope with any more. Then came the “inclusive” issues ; look up Bishop Colton here in Cork
My calling is so very much as a Solitary and that is what I am moving into much more fully now.
I read your comment re the preformed frozen patty as a criticism of the C of E and the three course as RC? Now I am really confused
My apologies for not being clearer, sometimes my brain runs away with me and I end up typing stuff that makes more sense in my head than on the page.
No, I am not comparing the churches, I know many Anglicans who are beautiful Christians and do very well in the church. I am just saying that Alpha seems a tad basic, but maybe that is the appeal for many people.
I am currently just starting RCiA classes at the local Catholic parish and have loved it so far. Maybe a new home beckons?