About Alpha in a Catholic Context
How did Alpha start?
The Alpha course originated at the Anglican parish of Holy Trinity Brompton in London in the late 1970s. The course was then developed by Reverend Nicky Gumbel, who saw its potential as a tool for evangelisation for those outside the church. Other churches became interested in the course and in 1993 the first Alpha conference was held in response to those enquiries.
Alpha first ran in a Catholic context after Cardinal Basil Hume invited Alpha pioneers Nicky Gumbel and Sandy Millar to a lead an Alpha conference in 1996 at Westminster Cathedral. In the years following this conference, Alpha was launched globally in the Catholic Church and is now running in thousands of Catholic parishes in 70 countries around the world.
Click here for more information on how Alpha in a Catholic context has developed worldwide.
How does Alpha work in the Catholic Church?
The Alpha course is a parish tool for evangelisation, 'the Kerygma'. A 15-session ten week practical introduction to the Christian faith, Alpha is designed primarily for non-churchgoers and new Christians. The course also serves as a refresher course for both practicing Catholics and for those who have lapsed in their faith. Each session includes a meal, a talk and small group discussion.
Hear stories from Catholic parishes that have run the Alpha course.
Over the course, the talks address Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, as well as topics such as prayer, the Bible and healing. They act as a catalyst for open discussion; no question is too simple no answer pre-packaged. A day/weekend away is included, focusing on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. For a list of the Alpha talks go click here.
Alpha aims to present the core truths of the Christian faith around which Christians of every denomination can unite. The Alpha course has been endorsed by the leadership of every major Christian denomination, and is being used by churches worldwide to introduce people to the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.
The Alpha course that is run in a Catholic context is the same in content and style as Alpha in any other context. Alpha is a very effective initial presentation of the core of the Gospel, the kerygma. Alpha only teaches what all the major denominations are agreed about.
Find out more by reading our Frequently Asked Questions.
What happens after Alpha?
Alpha is wholly compatible with Catholic teaching, but it does not address specific Catholic teachings and ecclesiology. Rather, it works best as part of an overall parish programme of evangelisation or catechesis. It is therefore important that Catholic parishes consider running a course after Alpha to help guests continue to develop in their faith. For a list of suggested follow up courses click here.
I want to do Alpha in a Catholic Context
The first step is to find a course that is local to you.
But you might also want to hear stories from people who have experienced the Alpha course in a Catholic parish.
I want to run an Alpha course
Check out our seven stage guide that will help you get started running your Alpha course.
Visit the Alpha Shop for the Alpha DVDs, training materials, guest manuals and much more.
Alpha in a Catholic Context - Answering the call to a New Evangelisation
"For the disciple of Christ to evangelise is an obligation of love."
Pope John Paul II
Archbishop Octavio Ruiz, Secretary to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, attended Alpha International Week 2011 in London and praised the way the course fulfills the Call to a New Evangelisation. He said:
'Certainly, in the area of new evangelisation there is also the task of looking for new methods, new expressions to make Christ known and to fall in love with him. We should not be afraid of listening to many voices, among which there is, for example, the Alpha course. This may be something unknown to many, something completely new. But in the Church, we have to use those providential instruments that the Lord gives us to move forward in our search of Christ. Alpha is a simple way, an easy method in the context of an ecumenical experience.
'The Alpha course, which I have had the opportunity to attend during this week here in London, is a providential tool because it precisely tries to reach out to those who are far from the Church, who are indifferent to the faith. By means of a very simple and humane tool, based on fraternity and friendship, Christ is introduced to them and enters little by little into their hearts. We know that in the Catholic Church we can provide a follow-up, a catechesis, a deeper teaching that will lead to a sacramental life. This is just a first step; a step we need to take without fear, with great enthusiasm as we look at the fruits yielded.'
The Alpha course has received the support of many Catholic Bishops, priests and lay people who are seeking to respond to the call to a New Evangelisation. Church leaders are endorsing Alpha as a tool for the New Evangelisation and parishes around the world are seeing lives transformed by the power of the Gospel. Hear stories from parishes and individuals that have been impacted by the course.