Alpha Course

Is the Alpha course recognised by Catholics?
And if i did it in an Elim Pentacostal Church would it be different than if i did it in a Catholic church?

I am in an RCIA course. I have taken alpha and assisted in a leadership of a program. The Alpha program here in Canada is being run in several catholic parishes mainly in BC but also in Ontario. There can be a problem in taking it in at a non-catholic church since some of the people may be more interested in manipulating the gospel then concern for you.
Regardless of my personal opinion, I would strongly reccomend taking one and starting one up at your local catholic parish. Check Alpha website for a catholic approved alpha.


the Alpha program is evangelization, initial proclamation of the Gospel, and explanation of the points of the Apostles Creed, it is intended for the unchurched, those who have no background in understanding the Christian faith we all share. Anyone interested in the Catholic church should take it in a Catholic church, because the presenters have received special training in “Alpha for Catholics”. It should be followed up by a program that explains Catholic liturgy, teaching, sacraments and the Mass. We use Touching Jesus Through the Church. It makes a great course for the RCIA Period of Inquiry.

I would like to know what you think about the alpha program by Nicky Gumball. I know some catholic parishes are using it with success.

If this is the one

Then I would only consider it if it were approved by the
**local diocese. I seems a little heavy on the **Protestant view.

Funny this should come up today. I just found out an hour ago that my daughter’s church is offering an Alpha course and she’s taking it. She’s enjoying it, but I gather a large part of the reason is the social outlet it’s providing her. She has four young children as do several other women in the course, so they’re treating it as a “club.” I couldn’t get much specific information from her, and the Alpha web site isn’t very informative, but I kind of gather that it’s a sort of “Mere Christianity” course in the sense that CS Lewis meant it.

It was at my parish although I did not go I asked a couple of ladies at the sign up booth at our parish festival…sounded like a lot of “it doesn’t matter where you belong (faith practice) we’re ok your ok Jesus loves everyone sugar spice and everything nice la la la”. It’s about finding out where God is in your life. It was started by an anglican clergy in Europe and most protestant churches offer it. In our parish it was presented by a protestant minister. Oh well. Maybe there should be a program called “Join the Church that Jesus started”. Woulden’t we still find out where God is working in our lives? Do not all roads lead to Rome?:banghead:

Sounds like it may be useful for agnostics exploring Christianity.

The website states:

“The Alpha Course is a fifteen session program which runs over ten weeks to provide a practical introduction to the Christian faith.
It offers the opportunity to explore the meaning of life.”

Sounds like a description of RCIA. Why would a parish use this instead of RCIA curriculum? Speaking as a convert from agnosticism, the ONLY reason I can think of is that it is meant to bring people to the idea of Christianity itself. That said, I would only offer it as a prep course of sorts for RCIA. After all, why go to school if you’re not going to graduate?
Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults…sounds better than “Alpha Course” too.

ALPHA has as its purpose initial proclamation of the Gospel and explanation of the basics of the Christian faith as defined in the Apostle’s Creed. It corresponds to the inquiry period which should preceed RCIA preparation. ALPHA does not replace RCIA, it evangelizes and invites and hopefully leads the inquirer to the RCIA process.

RCIA is for those who having heard and accepted this initial introduction and proclamation have now decided to pursue baptism or full communion with the Catholic Church and to enter the Catechumenate. At that point further study of Catholic doctrine, as well as scripture through the Sunday lectionary, are the appropriate matter for study, prayer and reflection.

I’m hoping someone can answer this question for me.

There’s a Protestant church I often pass by. I think it’s Vineyard Christian Fellowship or something like that. Anyway, they have a banner out front that says, “Yes! We do Alpha!”

I was wondering, what is alpha?

Thanks in advance for any replies!

[quote=Kay Cee]I’m hoping someone can answer this question for me.

There’s a Protestant church I often pass by. I think it’s Vineyard Christian Fellowship or something like that. Anyway, they have a banner out front that says, “Yes! We do Alpha!”

I was wondering, what is alpha?

Thanks in advance for any replies!

Kay Cee,

A quick Google search brings up …

  • Liberian

Thanks for the link!

I was a little concerned that they claim Roman Catholicism has alpha courses. Sounds a bit off . . .

there are several threads on this topic. The Alpha course was developed by an Anglican preacher, Nicky Gumbel, who has a charismatic background. It presents the basics of Christian belief, as contained in the Apostles Creed in 8-10 videos and discussion sessions, ending with a retreat about the Holy Spirit. The presentations and course materials themselves are not charismatic in content. They are intended for those who have never heard the Christian message. As initial proclamation of the gospel in a format, beginning with a shared meal, designed to attract people who would not otherwise go to Church, they are excellent. There is indeed and Alpha for Catholics program and training, also Alpha on Campus, in Spanish, for youth, for prison ministry.

Any Catholic parish looking for an adult evangelizaton program should look into Alpha. Then follow up with a good program on Catholic doctrine, such as Touching Jesus through the Sacraments. But there is little point in presenting the sacraments to people who have never even heard of Jesus Christ. Neither Alpha or Touching Jesus replaces RCIA or adult catechesis for sacraments, but are very good for the inquiry phase of the process.

I have taken the Alpha course at my (Methodist) church, & have subsequently both assisted in presenting it, & led a group. Puzzleannie has described it very well. The idea is to present very basic principles about the Christian faith…There are indeed materials available for Catholics; I have not seen them, but based on what I have known of Alpha, I can say that there is no attempt to make people leave their church, if that is what you were wondering about. On the contrary, the idea is to help people who may be wondering what faith is all about, to have a chance to look at the subject in what is called in the teacher’s book “a nonthreatening manner”.
The fact is that there are so many folks these days, that know little or nothing about their faith. The world is a very un-Christian place…(something that it is easy to forget here at CAF). They can come to understand through this method. I have enjoyed being a part of it, & can recommend it. I would definitely suggest using the material for Catholics, for a Catholic group. Not that there is any problem w/the standard material, but why not use those resources that will help increase your faith, instead of trying to adapt the material yourself?
(I will be honest & say that the Vineyard type church are not my cup of tea…But the original source is the Anglican priest Nicky Gumble).
God bless.

I wasn’t sure where to post this. I was just wondering if any of your parishes have a group called ALPHA? If so, what is it? I know it is non-denominational, but being that our parish supports it I was wondering just how catholic it is/

this has been discussed several times here, try a search.

I went to Alpha at Loyola University (a Jesuit University)–I attended there last school year, but have since transferred. It was a basic intro to Christianity (not specifically Catholicism). It was non-denominational, so there was no mention of Saints, or the Real Presence, or other Catholic dogma but it gave a background of the “basics” of the Christian faith to those with little-to-no knowledge of it. At the time, I had only begun studying Catholicism (I am still studying it in RCIA) but I don’t recall any anti-Catholic speech, just no pro-Catholic speech. Also, any textual citations that they used were Biblical, no citation of the Catechism or writings of the Saints. I’m not sure if this is the kind of info you were looking for, but that’s my recollection of it, as best as I can remember! :slight_smile:


I was wondering if anyone has ever participated in a Christian education program called “Alpha.” The Catholic Church near my house is running this program starting next week. It is a 12 week program that explores spirituality from a Christian perspective and over 6 million people have participated at churches of many denominations.

If anyone has ever participated in this and has thoughts on it, I would appreciate hearing about it. Thanks.


I have participated in it, helper in it and and now part of the team that helps to organise it. It is really a very basic course to get a good grounding in the Faith. Alpha itself began in the Anglican Church, but as the speaker himself on the videos is High Church Anglican, many Catholic concepts are hinted at (and in such a way that only Catholics would know :p)

Basically there is a meal for fellowship, some songs, a 40 min video on the topic of the week, followed by a small group discussion. The small group discussion is well not an FAQ session, its more of where on expresses his or her own thoughts and engage in discussions in a manner that is respectful to all parties.

The course is back to basics and has a very developed community aspect that is pretty solid.

There are also charismatic elements involved but all done in the proper way.

And well the course allowed me to switch from the lapsed Catholic I was since confirmation to well now discerning a vocation.

My main gripe? The sacraments are missing from the course. (But there is always Cafe, Catholic Faith Exploration to do that).

There are criticisms from seemingly fundamentalist quarters. I have read them and have found them baseless.

Down the street from me a “First Christian Reformed Church” has a sign for this program over their office doors.

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