Using Alpha as a tool to encounter Christ
By Josh Low
Helping people discover the beauty and richness of the Catholic faith is behind the successful Alpha program currently being run in the Sandy Bay Parish.
Run across three groups – one at the parish church, one at home and the last at Mount Carmel College with students, more than 40 people have been involved in total.
Originally begun by the Anglican Church as a non-denominational course on Christianity, the program has been developed and shaped in a Catholic context to include content from Pope Francis, prominent Catholic speakers and reflections and writings from the saints.
Archdiocesan Vicar General and Sandy Bay Parish Priest, Fr Shammi Perera VG, says the Alpha program is a helpful introductory course for those who have never had any exposure to Christianity.
He added that while Alpha may not hold answers to all the questions we have as Catholics, the program is certainly a powerful evangelisation tool to introduce a newcomer or someone already on the journey.
“Alpha is very much a tool for people who haven’t encountered Christ at all, those who do not have the gift of faith, for whom Christianity is alien.
“It’s a tool to draw them into the Church, into the life of the Church, into that encounter with Christ and the beauty of Christianity, the kerygma, teaching the ABCs of faith.
“It opens the door and allows us to understand why we are Christians, covering the passion, death and resurrection – the Kerygma,” he said.
However, Fr Shammi added, there are benefits too for Catholics, and opportunities to deepen their faith.
“Alpha can also allow Catholics to have a renewed encounter with Christ,” he said.
“They can discover the beauty, the richness and the wisdom of their faith in a whole new way through Alpha.”
For Amelia Beckett, a Catholic who has been participating in the Alpha course at the parish, the course examined many aspects of Christianity she had never delved into.
“The course strengthened my faith as the variety of testimonies reflected my own personal experiences of Christ’s mercy.
“The format of sharing a meal, watching an engaging video, and having a leader guide you through thought provoking questions was interesting and built a strong sense of community.
“I would recommend Alpha to anyone wanting to either explore Christianity or wanting to delve deeper into their faith,” she said.
Fr Shammi emphasised that the course offers a safe environment for everyone, which allows for discovering Christ in a profound way.
“You can come with your luggage of ideas about Christianity,” he said.
“This is a group where we hope that someone can feel like they belong, and at the same time enter into that journey and rediscover Christ in a different way.”
More Alpha courses are planned for next year, running from July to October 2023.