More about Alpha for Catholics: Follow-up to the Meetings
3-course celebration supper
We celebrated the completion of the Alpha Course with a grand 3-course supper to which participants invited their friends and relatives. The assistant priest gave an after-dinner talk inviting those who had completed the course to sign up for the on-going small house groups which the lay assistants would now lead in their own homes; and inviting the guests to come to the next Alpha Course. A couple of those who had completed the course spoke briefly on why they had enjoyed taking part and would recommend it to others.
Who Came to the First Course?
We publicised it by announcements to the congregation, the parish magazine, posters in local shops, letters to recently or about to be baptism and wedding families, and by word of mouth. People came b oth from the congregation and from off the streets.
What was the Course Content
Question of Life by the Revd Nicholas Gumbel of Holy Trinity Brompton provided the syllabus and the style, though for a Catholic parish it was necessary to modify the theological content at certain points. Also the speaker had to illustrate the talks from his own practical experience.
The talk on the Holy Spirit was given at an AWAY-DAY in a local retreat house, with plenty of time for relaxation as well as talk and discussion, ending with Mass.
Conclusions: The enthusiastic response of the people who took part amazed us.. Sharing the meal together became one of the things participants looked forward to eagerly each week. It was all home made.
The parish priest found that preparing and personalising the talks and illustrating them with local material was very time consuming and very hard work. He was amazed by the appreciative feed-back and the warm reception of these deeply theological addresses. Yes, they were translated by him into words of few syllables, but the theology was not watered down.
The feedback from both church-members and newcomers was overwhelmingly positive. Practising Christians said their faith had been deepened, lapsed Christians returned to the Sacraments, and newcomers began to read the Scriptures, pray and attend Mass for the first time. We are now planning three more Alpha Courses to run through the next twelve months.
The Alpha method can be a wonderful and very effective tool for communicating the basics of orthodox Catholic faith in an ordinary non-electric parish. Yes, it is hard work; but its well worth the effort.
Fr. Bryan Hackney, Vicar of St Francis, Mackworth Estate, Derby.
Essential reading for the parish priest:
Telling Others by Nicky Gumbel, Kingsway, œ4.50. Full details on how to set up and run an Alpha Course.
Questions of Life by Nicky Gumbel, Kingsway, œ3.99. The original Alpha syllabus in detail
For full list of literature write to: Alpha office, Holy Trinity Church, Brompton Road, London SW7 1JA. Tel: 0171 581 8255