Sometimes people struggle with life and the things they have going on around them. Being able to have an open conversation with others, asking and answering questions about everyday life and its meaning, can be fulfilling and strengthen one’s bond with Christ.
The Alpha course is an evangelical series that introduces the basics of the Christian faith through discussion. Topics range from who Jesus is and how to have faith to why we exist, to name a few. It’s a way to create conversation among people of different backgrounds centered around faith. Gatherings are made up of small groups of people meeting in a comfortable setting such as cafés, parishes or homes. Some things in common among the groups are lots of food and conversation.
In the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese Lisa Everett, director for the Marriage and Family Ministry, leads a small Alpha group that is now online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most important part of the course used to be physically being around others and having a face-to-face conversation, so going to online is a different kind of experience.
“I hesitated about taking Alpha online because the meal component is awesome and allows for a lot of fellowship. We have hosted several Alphas in our home and I enjoy cooking for everyone. But it turns out that hosting Alpha online actually “lowers the bar” for people to participate, because they don’t have to go anywhere, they don’t have to get child care, and if they feel that Alpha is not for them, they just have to press a button to exit,” said Everett.
There has been additional positivity to come from the virtual setting. “There also seems to be something about being in the comfort and privacy of one’s own home that actually allows people to be more vulnerable with each other more quickly,” Everett went on to say. “And the uncertainty created by the pandemic has many people thinking about the ‘big questions,’ about the meaning of life, more intentionally now.”
The pandemic has also created more time for some, due to the restrictions that are in place. Everett also suggested that “experiencing the many areas of life which might be seen as a moment of grace invites all of us to go deeper in our personal relationship with Christ. Alpha provides a wonderful opportunity to do so.”
The course has been enlightening for those attending, allowing them to look deeper within themselves and grow in their faith. Casey Ryan, adult education director for St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne, said “I support the Alpha program because it has the potential to engage the attendee in such a deep way that they will desire a relationship with Jesus. It’s a great tool to open the participant’s eyes to the relational aspect of the Catholic faith.”
Monica Sikorski, South Bend Alpha participant and assistant for the fall 2019 series, said, “Alpha articulates the Christian message in an attractive and vigorous way. Even as a cradle Christian, by participating in Alpha I found myself re-convinced and fascinated by the Gospel — the best news I could receive.”
The 10-week course is open to people from all walks of life. The commonality of the group is that participants want to deepen their understanding of faith, whether they have been Catholic all of their lives or are thinking of converting to Catholicism.
To join the series, contact a local parish to find a group or visit www.diocesefwsb.org/alpha.
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