Alpha course at Balcatta Parish brings life into the parish
Alpha Course participants at Balcatta Parish are having a dinner break before progressing to sharing sessions. Photo: Balcatta Parish.
By Theresia Titus
Balcatta Parish St Lawrence and Mary Immaculate Church has been given a new lease of life following an Alpha Course.
Conducted for over 11 weeks on Tuesdays evening, from 1 May to 10 July, the course concluded with a one-day retreat at the Salvatorian Community House in Currambine.
Lorraine Stonham, Balcatta Parish Council Secretary explained there were some 40 participants who attended the course in addition to a team of parishioners who hosted the groups and prepared the meals.
“Alpha was a great community building initiative in our parish,” Ms Stonham said.
“Alpha presents a strong message of love and Jesus to those looking for Christianity.”
Parish Priest Father Emil Ciecierega ran the sessions and noted the first Alpha course was conducted some 18 years ago.
“I believe, and it has been confirmed by participants of the last course we have had, that Alpha is an excellent way to bring more life to the parish by providing an opportunity for people to share their faith with one another and learning more about it from one another and the prerecorded presentations,” Fr Ciecierega said.
“The program is very beneficial for people who have some understanding of the Christian faith and especially for those who are searching for the meaning in life.”
Fr Ciecierega added that he plans to run the course early next year during Lent.
“The material has been put together very professionally by a team of people, which includes some Catholic people as well. It is straightforward to use and benefit from it.
“I have not heard any negative comments. As far as I know, everyone has enjoyed it and got something from it,” Fr Ciecierga explained.
The course was first developed in 1977 at Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican Church at the heart of London.
In 1990, Nicky Gumbel, the main presenter of the course, took over running Alpha and now the course runs in 169 countries, including the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, and Protestant denominations.
Participants watch informative Alpha videos for the course. Photo: Balcatta Parish.
The course is designed for people who have a lapsed Christian faith as well as non-believers looking for an enriching spiritual and prayer life.
“We began with a meal shared by all and general conversation to get to know each other and then watched a video presentation downloaded from the Alpha website.
“Nicky Gumbel is the main presenter [in the Alpha videos downloaded], with a variety of testimonials and viewpoints from a wide range of people in each session.
“We then gathered in our small groups for discussion of the presentation, with the hosts and helpers guided the groups using material course booklets containing suggestions of questions to ask,” Ms Stonham explained.
Ms Stonham explained participants felt the course has built a sense of community and belonging, refreshed their faith, and opened the opportunity for a fuller involvement in parish life.
Participants also said the meetings and discussions gave another perspective of Christ’s message and left them with the feeling of wanting to know more.
“It was a learning experience, faith-wise, but also confirmed existing beliefs,” Ms Stonham conveyed.
“Alpha gave us a comprehensive view of Christianity from many different perspectives and reminded us that Catholics are not the only Christians and of how much we have in common with all Christians and that the unity of Christians is vital, what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”