We are delighted to be sending you the latest Alpha in a Catholic Context newsletter. In this edition we will be sharing news of recent trips to the Vatican, highlights from Alpha conferences in Mexico and Portugal, a report from a recent Global Alpha Training (GAT) event in Burundi, information about our exciting new website and the upcoming Leadership Conference in London in 2012.
As 2011 comes to an end, we would like to thank you for your prayers and support. It has been a very busy year, with Alpha International Week, Alpha participation at World Youth Day, recent trips to Rome and all the Alpha training that has taken place in dioceses across the world. Please continue to pray as we look ahead to 2012 – we have listed some praise and prayer points below to guide you as you pray.
We wish you all a very blessed Christmas and joyful New Year!
With best wishes,
Director of Alpha in a Catholic Context
Nicky & Pippa Gumbel and Alpha in a Catholic Context representatives visit the Vatican
In November, Nicky and Pippa Gumbel and leaders representing Alpha in a Catholic Context around the world* visited the Vatican, where they met with bishops and Vatican officials to discuss the Alpha course as a parish tool for the new evangelisation.
The trip included meetings with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas, Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation, who also attended this year's Alpha International Week; Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli,
President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Msgr. Melchor Sánchez de Toca y Alameda, Undersecretary for the Pontifical Council for Culture and Msgr. Miguel Delgado, Undersecretary for the Pontifical Council of the Laity.
Those we met were delighted to hear stories of how people's lives are being changed by Jesus Christ through Alpha. In particular, they were impressed that Alpha is able to welcome people into the parish and to provide a space both for the proclamation of the gospel and for dialogue with non-believers. Cardinal Ouellet and Archbishop Celli expressed an interest in how Student and Youth
Alpha are reaching young people all around the world.
* Alpha in a Catholic Context representatives: Kitty Kay-Shuttleworth, Florence de Leyritz (Founder of Alpha France), Vincent Redier (Chairman of KTO, French Catholic Television Channel), Rosa Leveritt (Regional Manager for Alpha in the Catholic Church in Latin America & the Caribbean), Fr Salvador Valadez Fuentes (Director of Alpha Mexico, formerly Director of the ITEPAL) and Fr James Mallon (Archdiocese of Halifax, Canada, and Director of John Paul II Media Institute).
Alpha presentation to priests in Chieti, Italy
Following the meetings at the Vatican, Nicky Gumbel and Fr James Mallon presented Alpha to priests and seminarians at the Seminario Regionale Pontificio S.Pio X in Chieti. While in Chieti, Nicky Gumbel and Kitty Kay-Shuttleworth were delighted to meet with the Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Bruno Forte. Archbishop Forte, a member of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, was very welcoming and keen to hear more about how Alpha can be used as a tool for the new evangelisation.
Alpha representatives attend 'New Evangelisers for the New Evangelisation' event at the Vatican
On October 15 and 16, Alpha in a Catholic Context representatives joined more than 8000 Catholics engaged in evangelisation through their parishes, organisations and communities for the ‘New Evangelisers for the New Evangelisation – the Word of God grows and spreads event’, organised by the new Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation at the Vatican.
Over 500 Catholic leaders from the groups invited to the event attended a meeting on Saturday morning with Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation, to discuss the new evangelisation in more detail and to share experiences of evangelisation. Archbishop Fisichella opened the meeting by referencing the apostolic letter from the Holy Father
relating to the new evangelisation and the Lineamenta document that has been produced in advance of the Synod meeting in October 2012. Alpha was well represented at this meeting by Catholic leaders involved with Alpha across the world, including Marc de Leyritz, founder of Alpha France, who had the opportunity to speak on behalf of Alpha. He shared the following;
‘Alpha is a tool for the local parish; it is neither a community nor a movement. It has existed for around 30 years and consists of 10 simple evenings around a dinner, during which the kerygma is announced... I think it’s important that each Christian community adopts a tool to reach out to those who are, according to the Church, often far away. Alpha is a tool to hold on to; it is running across the world in over 162 countries and is absolutely wonderful!’
On Saturday afternoon, all those invited joined together for a meeting at the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall, attended by the Pope. The conference began with talks on evangelisation from Mother Veronica Berzosa, Founder and Superior of Iesu Communion, Vittorio Messori, a Catholic writer and H.E. Archbishop Fabio Suescun Mutis, Military Bishop for Colombia, followed by a performance by Andrea Bocelli and then the arrival of the Holy Father. During his speech, the Pope said,
‘Seeing all of you and knowing the hard work that everyone of you places at the service of the mission, I am convinced that the new evangelists will multiply more and more to create the true transformation which the world of today needs.’
First Alpha Conference for the Catholic Church in Mexico
From 17-19 October the first Catholic Alpha Conference in Mexico took place at the Pontifical University of Mexico in Mexico City. The conference was attended by 300 Catholic bishops, priests and lay people with delegates from around the continent.
Msgr. Victor Rene Rodriguez Gomez opened the conference and was joined on DVD by Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas, who spoke of the close fit between the call to a new evangelisation and the Alpha course. Nicky Gumbel, Jamie Haith and Tricia Neill also spoke at the conference, along with Jose Luis Perez Guadalupe, the recently appointed Director of the Penitentiary System in Peru. Father James Mallon of Canada also attended and gave two seminars on Catholicism 201, a follow up course for Alpha in Catholic parishes.
There has been so much positive feedback from this conference and it is likely that new Alpha courses will start in Mexico and across Latin America as a result. To see photos from the conference please click here.
Alpha Portugal Conference takes place in Cantanhede
In October, Alpha Portugal held a National Alpha Conference in Cantanhede attended by 200 Catholic delegates, including the Bishop of Coimbra, Virgilio do Nasimento Antunes, Bishop of Santarém, Manuel Pelino Domingues, and 70 priests from across Portugal.
The conference offered two streams; an Alpha stream, for those wanting to run an Alpha course for the first time, and a Vision to Action stream. Speakers included Fr Jorge Silvos Santos and Fr Paolo from Alpha Portugal, Nicolas De Chezelles and Charly Mootien from Alpha France and Jenny Axtell and Claire McKeever from Alpha International.
French GAT Team Visit Burundi
Almost 70 priests, religious and lay leaders gathered at Regina Mundi Cathedral in Bujumbura, Burundi, from 26-28 September to attend a Catholic Global Alpha Training (GAT).
The training was run by a Catholic team sent from the National Alpha Office in France.
The delegates were trained to run the Alpha course and experienced some of the Alpha sessions. They also had the chance to receive prayer and pray for each other. The Archbishop entrusted the practical steps of implementing the Alpha course in the Archdiocese of Bujumbura to Father Hérmenegilde Nkurunziza, who, with the support of Burundi National Director Jean Claude Ngiyimbere, will coordinate all Alpha initiatives in the Catholic Church.
The training was a great success, thanks to the hospitality of the parish community at the Cathedral, who provided the venue for the event, delicious meals and a very vibrant choir that helped the delegates and GAT team to celebrate and worship.
New Alpha in a Catholic Context Website
We are delighted to announce that the new Alpha in a Catholic Context website has gone live, featuring the Alpha in a Catholic Context Introductory DVD,
video interviews with Catholic leaders, stories from Catholic parishes that run Alpha, testimonies from Alpha teams and course guests, information about how to run a course and much, much more!
We will be continuing to develop the website – please send us your feedback so that we can ensure that it is as useful as possible. Please email email@example.com with any suggestions or send us your own personal experience of Alpha and/or parish story. We would love to hear from you!
Leadership Conference 2012
The dates for the 2012 Leadership Conference have just been announced, so please put 14-15 May 2012 in your diaries!
The conference will be held at the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington, London. There will be four streams for delegates to choose from: Church, Commerce, Community and Culture.
This is a great opportunity to hear from those who have experience of leadership and to be equipped and inspired to lead in your parish. For more information, please visit www.htb.org.uk/leadershipconference2012.
Prayer and Praise Points
• Recent meetings at the Vatican in Rome
• National Alpha Conference in Portugal
• The GAT in Burundi
• From 6-17 December Jaime Nistal of Alpha in a Catholic Context will be leading a GAT in Kigali, Rwanda. He will be joined by Tom Miles, who will be joining the Alpha in a Catholic Context team in January as the new Africa Alpha for Catholics Development Manager. Please pray for Tom as he takes on this new role – that God will anoint and bless the work that he will be doing.
• Please give thanks for the Church’s call to a new evangelisation and for the Synod on the New Evangelisation that will take place in October 2012. Please pray that parishes around the world will have a new missionary focus and that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be proclaimed with new enthusiasm.