Missionary disciples in the making: Cathedral Parish embraces Alpha

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Home > Media > News > Missionary disciples in the making: Cathedral Parish embraces Alpha
Missionary disciples in the making: Cathedral Parish embraces Alpha

What does Sri Lankan cooking, an Arabic-language Alpha course and the parents of a sacramental program all have in common?

For members of the Cathedral Parish’s Alpha team, they mean a fruitful year of mission in 2018 and plans for how to reach more people this year.

The Cathedral Parish has embraced the Alpha course – a weekly program introducing participants to the basic teaching of Christianity – as a means to rejuvenate Catholics in their faith and create a sense of community.

The parish ran four Alpha courses last year, with an incredible 55 participants finishing the program.

The courses attracted a diverse range of participants, according to Cathedral Parish Administrator Fr Shammi Perera.

“There were new Christians, there were Christians who haven’t been practising for some time, and some were practising from their birth but Alpha really rejuvenated their faith,” he said.

Even some who professed not to have faith took part, Fr Shammi said.

In post-Alpha surveys, participants commented that they learnt more about their faith and the Church, and felt part of a community.

“Uplifting spiritually, and feeling part of a community,” was how one participant described their experience.

“Everyone was welcoming and kind,” another said.

“I feel much more connected to the Church community and I got to know more about my faith and the Church,” said a third.

As well as two Alpha courses open to all comers, the parish ran a course just for the parish’s pastoral council, as a way of creating a sense of community within the diverse group.

On alternate weeks, Fr Shammi took turns with Deacon Nick McFarlane in cooking meals – Fr Shammi cooked Sri Lankan cuisine – for each session.

The team also ran an Arabic-language Alpha course for the Iraqi and Syrian community who attend the Cathedral.

With the sessions held in Arabic, Fr Shammi was simply a presence while two members of the Iraqi and Syrian community led the course.

“Arabic Christians are quite family-oriented and community-oriented, and it provided them a weekly community get-together based on their faith experience,” Fr Shammi said.

The group continued to gather to pray a rosary or watch a saint movie and eat a meal for several weeks after the course had finished.

With such a fruitful year behind them, the Cathedral Parish is now planning for this year, with the launch of the parish mission statement and seeking a new outreach focus for Alpha.

“Our main target group for next year’s Alpha is the parents in the sacramental program,” Fr Shammi said.

The parish also intends to run other faith programs for those who have already completed an Alpha course.