When we decided at a Leadership meeting that the parish would begin an Alpha program I was uncertain about my role in it. My view at the time was that if we were going to run Alpha successfully I should at least understand what we need to do so that we can make a good job of it. I wasn’t particularly interested in being personally involved.
So, in early 2018 I, along with some other parishioners in the Leadership team, attended the initial training and planning session at Berry along with a number of other parishes. From this experience I was greatly impressed by the professional production of the Alpha series videos, the focus on community involvement through sharing meals together, the breadth of faith topics covered in the 11 week program, and the personal impact on my own faith through sharing my faith story and listening to others’ stories.
When we launched our first Alpha program my wife and I hosted two of the small groups. This was a really uplifting experience: sharing a meal with parish friends, watching very thought-provoking videos and discussing these in our small groups. All the guests in my small group were parishioners I have known for many years and been friends with most for a long time, but I had not discussed my faith or told my story to them. It was such a wonderful experience sharing my life and faith with them and then listening to their particular faith story. It greatly enhanced my relationship with them and made me focus more on my own faith and the relationship I have with Jesus.
This first Alpha program had such an impact on Margaret and I that we hosted small groups on the following two Alpha programs. During these times I had become much more engaged in knowing more about “what” and “why” I believe. In 2019 I spent the year reading and reflecting on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I hadn’t read much of the Catechism since I was a child and reading it as an adult and reflecting on it now was really something and just reinforced what we believe as Catholics. Following this in 2020 I was motivated to read the Bible, from start to finish. During Alpha, on the session on the bible, I was taken by how few people, including myself, had actually read the bible. Of course, many of us are familiar with Scripture through Mass and our Missal, but I asked myself how familiar am I with the “Word of God”? So I commenced reading a chapter of the bible each morning and accompanied this with a reflective commentary, in my case I used the “Bible in One Year” by Nicky Gumbel from Alpha. This experience has been life changing. Listening to God speaking to me each day, reflecting on his words and my faith has so enriched my life.
From doubtful beginnings my involvement with Alpha has been one of the best things I have ever done. My faith, my life and my friendships have all been so enriched these past few years. From my experience I can’t speak highly enough of Alpha and I hope you avail yourself of a wonderful faith opportunity.
“I was looking for a way to explore what faith is, with others who did not go to church or who felt uncertain about God’s role in their life….and I found Alpha. It was such an amazing way to connect to others, I learnt so much about myself through sharing my story and listening to others share theirs. I loved the way it was often joyful and fun and also relaxed with no pressure to speak in turn or anything like that.
The discussions focused on topics that everyone could have an opinion on as they relate to experiences we all have in living and in relationships. I also love the friendships that I now have as a result of Alpha.”
Diane Redmayne (OLMC parishioner /RCIA Coordinator)