The History of Alpha in a Catholic Context


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 lead an Alpha conference in 1996 at Westminster Cathedral.  In the years following this conference, Alpha was launched in Catholic parishes across the world. Alpha is now running in the Catholic Church in over 65 countries.

More recently, 300 Catholics, including 45 archbishops, bishops and representative priests attended the International Alpha Conference in June 2011. Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, sent a greeting to be read out to the delegates from around the world, in which he said:


"Through the Alpha courses, and the testimonies of those who participate in their sessions and groups, faith is renewed, rekindled, takes root. This is an invaluable experience for many people, and a real sign of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit."

Archbishop Octavio Ruiz, Secretary to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, also attended and said:

"I can see that Alpha is a tool that God has been put into our hands to do this new evangelisation."


Alpha in a Catholic context is running in many different parts of the world. Click on the links to find out more about the history of Alpha in a Catholic context in each area.