Alpha Program use in Catholic Church

Our Parish is looking to start an Alpha Program to attract the “non-churched” in our town. This is a Protestant based program but tries to stick to “Basic Christianity” in its presentations. There are presentations that don’t square with Catholic principles and I think should be addressed. Our group, being modern Catholics, seems to lean toward being “ecumenical” and letting the people decide what denomination to attend after, as long as they “know Jesus” type attitude. Anybody out there use this program? What kind of adjustments do you make, if any, to conform to Catholic teaching?

Remember, babies feed on milk before they eat solid food. The “unchurched” as you called them are people who usually have no theological clue. So you have to start with the basics. Although I am not thoroughly educated on the specifics of the Alpha Program, I applaud any effort your parish is doing to reach out to those who don’t know Jesus. Once they are weaned off the milk of the basics, they can be fed the meat of the gospels.

The Alpha program is a British Church of England( Evangelical) program.
I attended the program as a guest at my local anglican church when I heard that are local Catholic Church was going to use It.
Nicky Gumbel the author has made It clear that under the copyright any Church using the program must use It In Its entirety.That is why Catholic alpha at the end of the course uses two videos to supplement the program.So for example under the copyright you can not change any mistakes you find.
When I was on the program I started to find many problems from the Catholic point of view.The main book which is used is " Question of Life" and you use this through the program.In chap 4 is the Evangelical teaching that you are assured of Eternal life with Jesus. In chap 11 It gives a rule that Christians can only marry other Christians, obviously this is preferable but not a rigid rule in the Catholic Church.In chap 14 it mentions that Church does not mean one specific denomination and also that the Pentecostal churches success in South America Is due to the fact that It Is laity led and not pulpit or altar led. Worst of all In the same chapter It talks about Holy Communion.The bread and wine “represents” the body and blood of Jesus.
I phoned a few Catholic parishes who used this course and asked them how they dealt with the errors and the universal reply was “what errors”.
There are a large range of Alpha books and In one I picked up It said that the Catholic teaching on divorce and remarriage is wrong.
This program has been controversial In a few Catholic circles but also In some Church of England circles because of Its Evangelical bias.
But remember most of all that Nicky Gumbel has said that if you use this program you must use It In Its entirety.
In other words us Catholics should come up with are own good programs and I do believe that a certain Scott Hahn has one up and running. :thumbsup:

If you can’t find a thoroughly Catholic program, there is a follow-up series for Catholics to the problematic Alpha program called ‘Touching Jesus Through the Church’ by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D. published by ChristLife (www.christlife.org) that might be helpful.

CaFE is a Catholic Programme - Catholic Faith Evangelisation. The programme comes from England. There is info on it which can be accessed by going to Google and typing in CaFE. I did a training course in CaFe here in Australia and was very impressed by it. Unfortunately my parish priest, who is rather lukewarm, wasn’t keen to start it. :frowning:

Thanks for the inputs! Robin Hood, you mentioned “Catholic Alpha” adding 2 video’s to the program to suppliment the Alpha program. Where can I get these? Also if Scott Hahn has a program, anybody know what it’s called and where to get it?

Thanks:D

Scott and Kimberley Hahn’s Catholic adult education series Is available from www.saintjoe.com.It is longer than Alpha at 35 programmes, but you can’t rush a good thing.It comes with a study guide and comes highly recommended more info from above web site.
Alpha’s supplement Catholic material has increased since I last looked and Is available from www.christlife.org
I hope and pray that your Parish uses the Hahn’s series instead. As a limey please use the American good stuff, remember we sent over punk rock as well.
God bless :thumbsup:

[quote=yinekka]CaFE is a Catholic Programme - Catholic Faith Evangelisation. The programme comes from England. There is info on it which can be accessed by going to Google and typing in CaFE. I did a training course in CaFe here in Australia and was very impressed by it. Unfortunately my parish priest, who is rather lukewarm, wasn’t keen to start it. :frowning:
[/quote]

I am in Melbourne, and my Parish are on the 6th week of a 8 week program called CAFE - Catholic Faith Exploration - run by Catholic Evangelical Services.

It is based in England, but is very generic, as in , the speaker does not use many refernces to England, except when he tells a joke about being on holiday and driving down the M1 ( and references like that)

My Parish have enjoyed it immensely, and it has really made us discover our Faith.

Each week we gather, say an opening prayer, watch the video which runs for approx. 30 mins, then we talk in our small groups about the video.

We sit on tables of 10, and have coffee or wine, and snacks, just like a cafe.

I thoroughly recommend it.

The web site is faithcafe.org/

There are sample videos on this site.

And I emailed David PAyne, the man who runs it, and is the speaker on the first series, and he replied to my email 2 days later.

He thanked me for my encouragement. Just shows you they are very willing to help us all and listen to us all.

Love Kellie

I have looked at the site recommended by Kellie www.faithcafe.org/ and It certainly looks good.Some of the speakers I recognise like Lord Alton and they are very good.
And It Is CATHOLIC. :amen:

Alpha Program is BAD

Let me find some sources.

ourladyswarriors.org/dissent/alpha2.htm <-- look it up

Posted by Seanie on catholic-convert.com board

It’s not Catholic. It’s a Protestant course with a Catholic bit at the end.

I wrote this in the past, but it’s worth repeating:

There’s:

-no mention of the Catholic understanding of Sacraments,
-no teaching on the teaching authority of the Church,
-no mention of Mary, of the Mass as a sacrifice,
-no mention of the sacraments other than Baptism and Eucharist,
-no room for the Magisterium of the Catholic Church,
-no room for any distinctly Catholic teaching,
-no room for Sacred Tradition,
-no guidance on how to know truth from error (instead, everything is subjective; people are asked what they think! Forget about objective truth!

Nicky Gumbel says in one place that the differences between Protestants and Catholics are:

“totally insignificant compared to the things that unite us…we need to UNITE around the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus; the absolute essential things at the core of the Christian faith on which we are all agreed. We need to give people liberty to disagree on the things which are secondary.” (Session 13 White Alpha training manual pp 63-68 Video V Talk 14. )

In other words Gumbel is saying that only those doctrines which Catholics and Protestants agree on are primary, and those they disagree on are “the things which are secondary”! If this is the case, then I invite Nicky Gumbel to join the Catholic Church without delay; he will surely have no objection, if he thinks the Catholic Church’s only differences with his beliefs are “secondary”. This of course is nonsense; the differences are anything but “totally insignificant”; they are very real and denying they exist will not help anyone.

In actual fact, even by Gumbel’s definition of unity, we are NOT united around the death and resurrection of Jesus, as Protestants in general have an erroneous view of the atonement of Christ which is not compatible with the Catholic teaching. And what view of the death and resurrection of Jesus are we supposed to unite around, considering the fact that Catholic magisterial authority has no place in Alpha? The Protestant view, of course.

The real aim of the Alpha course it seems is to get everyone to believe in a sort of “lowest common denominator” of Christianity, with nobody causing any offense about doctrinal issues (in other words, “let’s have unity at the expense of truth”), and everyone believing just some of the absolute basics, but leaving out issues like authority, the nature of justification, grace, the Sacraments, and so on.

In another place, Nicky Gumbel writes:

“we make it a rule on Alpha never to criticise another denomination, another Christian church or a Christian leader.” (Telling Others, p114).

So, that’s why I say the Alpha Course isn’t Catholic.

God bless,
seanie

We have the Alpha program at our parish and my biggest concern is that I read that there is a communion service towards the end of the program. Is this true? If so I would have a big problem with having an invalid service with non-Catholics. Does anyone have information on this?

We had the Alpha Program promoted at our Church.
(Instead of the Homily we had a talk given by a lay Catholic.):frowning:

If, as stated, it is primarily for the “unchurched,” then why try
to encourage practising Catholics who don’t fit that definition to attend the course?:confused:

The speaker was highly enthusiastic,and said he had gained a
great deal from it.

He enthused about his increased spirituality as a result of lessons he learned toward the end of the program. Spirituality he didn’ t know existed. I can only wonder what that might have
been.:hmmm:

Anyone else with experience of Alpha know?

V60

It is apparent from reading some of the posted replies that many of you have not attended an Alpha course. The folks at Christlife ([/font]www.christlife.org) have some great information about Alpha for Catholics, including a FAQ. Please visit their website to get lots of answers. They also provide “Alpha for Catholics” training workshops, for parishes wishing to offer the Alpha program.

We (my husband and I), by the grace of God, were led back to the Catholic Church in a roundabout way through an Alpha course which we attended at a local protestant church. Everyone in our small group (even the leader) had been raised Catholic, but they are all still with the protestant church where we attended the course. We later volunteered as small group leaders at the same church, and came to know the program as leaders as well as attendees. Here are some of our replies:

[list]
*]The Alpha course is an ecumenical program designed to convert non-believers (and yes, some of them may be sitting beside you in your congregation) to Christianity. It is not Catholic, or Baptist, or Pentecostal, etc, it is simply an Intro to Christianity. The course is about the process, leading one into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (you may not understand the process by picking apart the materials). It should be followed with an introduction to Catholicism (several series are available at Christlife), or with RCIA.
*]It would be a violation of the copyright to add Catholic elements to the Alpha program; however, you have to understand that if the course is presented in a Catholic parish by Catholics leading the small groups and providing fellowship, it is likely for a convert to continue his/her formation right there in the Catholic Church (think of the former Catholics who had been in our small group that are still attending the protestant church where we went to Alpha).
*]Some points have been made against the program, and the fact that it is not Catholic (is basic Christianity not Catholic?). You have to see the program from the perspective of a non-believer. These people not only do not believe in the Catholic Church, they don’t believe in Jesus, or even in God! My husband was agnostic (raised Catholic) and I was a non-practicing Catholic before we attended the Alpha course at the invitation of a friend (I only went because I thought it would be good for him :). We both had a conversion experience, and after more study on our own (and with the help of Catholic Answers, thank you very much!), we were led back to the Catholic Church. Think “baby steps”, and of how the apostles (and many converts after them) came to know Jesus, to have a personal relationship with him, before coming to understand and believe in the one true Church that Christ Himself established.
*]We are considering offering the Alpha course at our parish. We have just completed Disciples in Mission, and we are ready to “Go and Make Disciples”. I am not the kind of person that can go door to door, but I can ask someone to come to a dinner. I think the Alpha program is a good tool for us to have for evangelizing non-believers.
*]I have not been able to find a Catholic program such as Alpha that is geared to evangelizing non-believers (and I have been searching). The Secretariat for Evangelization at the US bishops’ website ([/font]www.usscb.org) lists several good programs for Catholic audiences, such as CaFE, Disciples in Mission, RENEW, etc. These programs are great for strengthening the faith of Catholics so that they may share their faith with others, but they are not for evangelizing non-believers. I have prayed that we would find a program like Alpha developed by a Catholic organization (hint, hint Carl!), but maybe we don’t need to re-invent the wheel.
[/list]

It is good to see fellow Catholics involved in leading people to Christ through his grace. And Is an inspiration to us all to get up and involved, even when we disagree about what program to use.
Something good hopefully will come out of the Alpha controversy, as Skippy suggested a good Catholic Catachetical program from Catholic Answers would be ideal. Using their media skills and with a charismatic speaker like Scott Hahn or Fr John Corapi, It would be a best seller.
The program needs to meet the needs of the unchurched, especially the Agnostic and atheist starting off with the existence of God. We have a good book that does this " This is the Faith" by Canon Francis Ripley, which could be used as a blueprint for a good media series.
This aside Alpha falls short of the Catholic requirements of a Catechetical program. In no field off learning do you teach using materials that you know has errors and correct them at a later date, especially when it comes to the Faith.
In Catechesi Tradedae by Pope John Paul in paragraph 30 It states regarding catechetics
"The first point concerns the integrity of the content. In order that the sacrificial offering of his or her faith should be perfect, the person becomes a disciple of Christ has the right to receive the word of faith not in mutilated, falsified or diminished form but whole and entire in all its rigor and vigor.Unfaithfuness on some point to the integrity of the message means a dangerous weakening of catechesis and putting at risk the results that Christ and the ecclesial community have a right to expect from it."

A ship named “Atheism” sinks during a strong storm, and all the souls
are left adrift in the middle of a dark, cold sea. By the grace of God, a
ship named “Catholicism” arrives on scene to offer salvation. Strong,
knotted ropes are thrown over the sides to bring the lost souls out of the
dark. But, before a single soul is saved, the ropes are suddenly pulled
back on board. One by one the souls in the water begin slipping under
the surface, succumbing to the cold sea.

Surprised and alarmed, the sailors on board “Catholicism” beg their
shipmates, who are pulling up the ropes, to throw them back in. “We
must not use these ropes!” comes the reply. “They are not perfect!
They have flaws and some may break!” More souls slip under the
surface. “We must go back to port and have ladders made.”
“Catholicism” sails off, leaving the souls to the cold and dark.

All is not lost, though, for those in the water. Here come more ships by
the name of “Evangelical”, “Methodist”, “Pentecostal”, “Baptist”, and
many more, stretching off to the horizon, all with strong, knotted
ropes over their sides. Souls by the thousands start climbing out of the
cold sea and join the sailors on deck.

Meanwhile, “Catholicism” fights the storm to get back to port.

Alpha is not perfect. But, at this point, until we can come up with our
own Catholic program, it’s the best out there. And it works!

[quote=choicenctr]We have the Alpha program at our parish and my biggest concern is that I read that there is a communion service towards the end of the program. Is this true? If so I would have a big problem with having an invalid service with non-Catholics. Does anyone have information on this?
[/quote]

If non-Christians are taking Communion, perhaps it’s a good thing the Eucharist isn’t valid! :frowning: There are serious consequences for taking Communion in an unworthy manner. (1 Cor. 11: 27-30) They should not be offering this sacrament in an evangelical setting.

[quote=skippy]A ship named “Atheism” sinks during a strong storm, and all the souls
are left adrift in the middle of a dark, cold sea. By the grace of God, a
ship named “Catholicism” arrives on scene to offer salvation. Strong,
knotted ropes are thrown over the sides to bring the lost souls out of the
dark. But, before a single soul is saved, the ropes are suddenly pulled
back on board. One by one the souls in the water begin slipping under
the surface, succumbing to the cold sea.

Surprised and alarmed, the sailors on board “Catholicism” beg their
shipmates, who are pulling up the ropes, to throw them back in. “We
must not use these ropes!” comes the reply. “They are not perfect!
They have flaws and some may break!” More souls slip under the
surface. “We must go back to port and have ladders made.”
“Catholicism” sails off, leaving the souls to the cold and dark.

All is not lost, though, for those in the water. Here come more ships by
the name of “Evangelical”, “Methodist”, “Pentecostal”, “Baptist”, and
many more, stretching off to the horizon, all with strong, knotted
ropes over their sides. Souls by the thousands start climbing out of the
cold sea and join the sailors on deck.

Meanwhile, “Catholicism” fights the storm to get back to port.

Alpha is not perfect. But, at this point, until we can come up with our
own Catholic program, it’s the best out there. And it works!
[/quote]

**The whole point is that on the good ship Catholicism the ropes are not faulty because they are Christs.And the Captain appointed by Christ, Pope John Paul does all he can to save souls and would not leave them to sink.
Jesus also expects the crew of the ship to obey the Captain he has appointed, as In the document Catechesi Tradendae quoted in my previous message.
And If the Catholic program we use ( as seen in previous threads) does not cover Atheism. We can do that ourselves using materials from Catholic Answers until a program is ready.
Yours in Christ **

1 Like

It is now 2009 is there anything else new in the Catholic world to replace the Alpha program? Has the Alpha program changed?

ChristLife (the group mentioned earlier in the thread) has the Discovering Christ program.

Discovering Christ is a seven-week evangelizing process. It is a course that provides a relational context in which members of a parish, campus ministry, etc. can bring family and friends to hear the good news and personally encounter Jesus Christ!

There’s more information here: Discovering Christ. They’ve also got information on Alpha and Dr. D’Ambrosio’s Touching Jesus Through the Church

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