Catholic Leaders Encourage the Alpha Course

Alpha is a basic introductory course to the Christian faith for non-churchgoers, inactive and new Christians as well as faithful parishioners. Many Catholic leaders - cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity - have seen much fruit from the course and encourage its use in the Catholic Church.

 

Most Rev. Harry Flynn
Archbishop of Minneapolis, MN, USA
Archdiocesan Letter, October 2006

 

"The impact of the Alpha course continues to prove amazing.  One can now find an Alpha course in 155 countries around the world with courses being offered across all denominations.  As many as 8 million people are estimated to have completed the course through 2005.  In the U.S. more than 8,000 churches from 127 denominations have run the course and grounded more than 1.6 million people in the essentials of the Christian faith!

I have personally followed the development of Alpha over the years and have seen the profound impact the ministry is having upon churches.  Alpha churches report the faith of their members being revitalized; relational bridges to seekers being more effectively established; and most importantly, the Kingdom of God growing!  In the five-state Twin Cities’ region, almost 900 churches have run the course (including many Roman Catholic parishes) with continuous reports of transformed lives and empowered ministries!"

 

Shawn Cardinal O'Malley
Archbishop of Boston, MA, USA
Archdiocesan Approval Letter, March 2006

"... our Archdiocese and the wider Church have a great need for renewal of the faith through prayer and outreach to our other Christian brethren. Many of our Catholic parishioners have benefited from the Alpha program by way of its building on their initial interest in the Church, as a pre-catechumenate experience, or for others, a renewal of their desire to more deeply understand and live their Catholic faith. Life-long faith formation is a priority for our religious education programs and I am grateful for the efforts of those who seek to assist with this important work. Should pastors of our parishes wish to utilize the Alpha program as part of their religious curriculum they can do so with my approval."

Fr. Raneiro Cantalamessa, OFM Cap,
Preacher to the Papal Household of Benedict XVI,
Address to the International Alpha Conference,
June 2005

"...we need a new evangelization which, while being open to all the fullness of the truth and the Christian life, will yet be simple and basic. This is the reason why I look with interest and appreciation to the Alpha Course. It seems to me that it answers precisely to this need of ours. The very name shows this. It is not called "Alpha and Omega course” (as Revelation 1, 8 might have suggested) but simply "Alpha Course”, because it doesn’t claim to lead people from beginning to end in faith; only to help them get acquainted with it, to foster a personal encounter with Jesus, leaving it to other Church departments to develop the newly rekindled faith." [read more]

Walter Cardinal Kasper
President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Address to the Alpha Conference in Stuggart, May 2005

‘A new century, a new millennium are opening in the light of Christ. But not everyone can see this light. Ours is the wonderful and demanding task of becoming its "reflection"…

This is a daunting task if we consider our human weakness, which so often renders us opaque and full of shadows. But it is a task which we can accomplish if we turn to the light of Christ and open ourselves to the grace which makes us a new creation’ (Novo Millennio Ineunte., 54).

With these words John Paul II encouraged us as Christians, at the beginning of the new millennium, in the face of widespread apathy and Godforsakenness among men, not to relent in the task of the new evangelisation.

The Alpha course sees itself as committed to exactly this task. Parishioners who feel that their faith has been renewed invite friends and acquaintances to a further discussion about faith. They have found the courage to tell others around them about their faith and to get them excited about it.

Alpha courses, which came originally from an Anglican background, are also opportunities to strengthen ecumenical togetherness among Christians and a joint proclamation of faith in Christ in today’s world.

For the conference that is taking place in Stuttgart during these days I wish to all participants the courage and the fervour of God’s Holy Spirit, which has been promised to us again at Pentecost, to strengthen their fellow men in faith and to call them anew to a witness for Christ in our world.

William Cardinal Keeler
Archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Opening Address at The North American Alpha Conference for Catholics, 1999

"Good morning. I am delighted to welcome each of you to the first North American Conference for Catholics about the Alpha program. Because of long-standing commitments to be in Rome during these days, I regret that I cannot be there in person to welcome you to this conference and to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

"We are very pleased to have participants with us from throughout the United States and from Canada, pleased to have participants who are Catholics and also who come from other church families. In a special way I want to express our gratitude to the Reverends Sandy Millar and Nicky Gumbel and the members of Holy Trinity Anglican church in London, as well as to the Catholic members of the Alpha Conference team who have come from the United Kingdom to help with this program.

"Our Lord Jesus has called each of us to go out and proclaim the Good News -- to be instruments in helping others to know how, through his death and resurrection and through his gift of the Holy Spirit, he calls us to holiness and calls us to bring that same message of the call for holiness, the call to service of God in God's kingdom, to other people.

"Pope John Paul II has made the new evangelization a major theme of the preparation of our Church for the great Jubilee of the year 2000. Now it's clear that evangelization is a priority for Christians, for us as Catholics, and it brings us face to face with a very practical issue: how do we respond to this calling? What do we do in our parishes and in our ministries? Here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, several of our parishes and one of our campus ministry programs have found that Alpha is a wonderful way to lead people, people with no Christian background as well as ordinary parishioners, to a personal encounter, a personal meeting with the living Jesus Christ.

"We are hearing wonderful testimony of the Good News touching and even transforming the lives of individuals who have attended these Alpha courses. In addition, those who complete the Alpha course are ready and eager to take part in the small communities that are forming in parishes; ready and eager to learn more about our church and her sacraments and to serve and evangelize others.

"During the recent visit of Pope John Paul II to Mexico City, he promulgated his apostolic exhortation following the synod for America. There he spoke so emphatically about the new evangelization, about our role in being open to the Holy Spirit in our lives, and being messengers for Jesus to others. A work of witnessing to God's holiness and calling others to that holiness, which is so important and which I pray, will be at the heart of this Alpha Conference.

"My hope for all of the churches represented here is that we, that is our churches, will be places where people can encounter our Lord Jesus; where people can experience personally the power of the Holy Spirit as a power which transforms, as a power which enables us, enables our people, to be agents in going out and touching and transforming the world around us.

"I say again, it's good to see that here with us are so many Christians coming from various backgrounds, various church backgrounds together, ready to use Alpha in order to learn how to evangelize. Today in Rome, in the city of the apostles, Peter and Paul, I am with you in spirit. I am praying that God's Spirit may bless this conference and bless your work in the days ahead. Your work, your future efforts as witnesses to Jesus and to his Kingdom for the glory of God. God bless you."

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin
Archbishop of Lyon, France

"What Alpha gives and communicates renews the life of the church and opens up the path of faith to people who before were not open to it."

Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien
St. Andrews and Edinburgh

"To help in this process of ongoing evangelisation of Christians, and perhaps to lead others to full membership of a Christian church, the Alpha course has proved invaluable for many over a considerable number of years now. Awareness of our Christian faith; awareness of our membership of a particular Christian community; and an awareness of our membership of our own church are all things which are considered in greater depth in an Alpha course. Many people have been helped to this greater awareness through Alpha and I do encourage others to think about it at this present time."

Most Reverend Adam Exner, OMI
Archbishop of Vancouver, Canada
Address at Vancouver Alpha Conference for Catholics

"I think if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that in the past number of years we have become a maintenance church. And I think we do a reasonably good job of looking after those who belong and practice. But I think we are weak in reaching out to those who have fallen away, and we are weak in reaching out to those who do not yet believe.

"Many signs of the times are staring us in the face. So many countries have become de-Christianised and, since 1965, the number of people who haven't heard of Christ or don't believe in Him has doubled. We have much catching up to do!"

"This is what I think the Holy Spirit is asking of us in our world of today. I sincerely believe that the Alpha approach to evangelising can and will enhance our evangelising effort - our effort to move from being a maintenance church to a mission-driven church. Alpha is a method - not the only one, but it is a tried and proven and effective method - of reaching out to the fallen-away and those who do not yet believe. I really believe that Alpha is a way of responding to what the Holy Spirit asking of us today.

"I believe that Alpha is one way - and a very effective way - of contributing to our new springtime of faith and Christian living in our new world of today. And I believe that it is also a real source of hope for the future.

"The growth of Alpha in the Catholic church has been considerable in recent years, with many senior Catholic bishops recommending it to their dioceses."

The Most Revd Buti Thlagale
Archbishop of Johannesburg

"The Alpha course has shown across the world, as well as here in South Africa, that it can be a most effective tool for evangelisation."

Most Rev. Thomas McMahon
Brentwood, England

"How can one not give one's support for Alpha? Because when I look at its aims today - addressing the post Christian society which sadly we are now in - the aims of Alpha to give an introduction to the Christian faith does what we need. It is aimed very especially at non-churchgoers, the lapsed and new Christians and then deepening the faith of those who are committed by a course on basic doctrines. I want to say that I have heard praise on all sides, lots of people coming up to me about an Alpha course they have been on either in their parishes or in schools or various chaplaincies. I want to say that in my view - with RCIA - Alpha is one of the most important tools in evangelism and there is no question whatsoever in my mind that evangelism is our chief task today....Go on an Alpha and your faith will become much more relevant as a person. I want to end by saying that in this whole work of evangelism I feel very strongly that we must be more pro-active and I think that Alpha is really showing us the way for that in the most wonderful manner, because I think that we have got to really reach out to people."