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Catholic Archbishop: This source of hope
A CATHOLIC Archbishop has described the Alpha course as a "source of hope for the future" in an address to 1,400 delegates attending an Alpha conference in Vancouver, Canada.

The Most Rev’d Adam Exner, Archbishop of Vancouver, said he believed Alpha to be a valuable tool to help local churches move from ‘maintenance’ to ‘mission’.

Archbishop Adam Exner speaks at the Vancouver Alpha conference

He told the packed conference, "I think if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that in the past number of years we have become a maintenance church.

"And I think we do a reasonably good job of looking after those who belong and practice, but I think we are weak in reaching out to those who have fallen away and we are weak in reaching out to those who do not yet believe.

"This is what I think the Holy Spirit is asking of us in our world of today.

"I sincerely believe that the Alpha approach to evangelising can and will enhance our evangelising effort - our effort to move from being a maintenance church to a mission-driven church.

"Alpha is the method - not the only one, but it is a tried and proven and effective method - of reaching out to the fallen-away and those who do not yet believe.

"I really believe that Alpha is a way of responding to what the Holy Spirit is asking of us today.

"I believe that Alpha is one way - and a very effective way - of contributing to our new springtime of faith and Christian living in our new world of today. And I believe that it is also a real source of hope for the future."

The growth of Alpha in the Catholic church has been considerable in recent years, with many senior Catholic bishops recommending it to their dioceses.

Papal Preacher gives Alpha follow-up talks
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Papal Household in the Vatican, has accepted an invitation from the Catholic Alpha office to give a series of seven talks on video which will be used as follow-up teaching to Alpha in the Roman Catholic church. The series, entitled, Drink from the Wells of the Church, includes talks on the Bible, Prayer, the Church and the ‘Power of Pentecost’. Fr. Cantalamessa has spoken warmly of the Alpha course, describing it as “a return to the fundamental things of the Christian faith” during an address to a large inter-church conference in Germany in May. Mr David Payne, head of the Catholic Alpha office, said, “These videos have just been published and we are very excited about their potential.” 

Left: Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa speaking and, inset, with Nicky Gumbel, of Alpha

© The Alpha Head Office
Holy Trinity Brompton Brompton Road London SW7 1JA
ENGLAND Tel: +44 171 581 8255 Fax: +44 171854 8536
alpha.office@htb.org.uk

Why I welcome Alpha, by Cardinal
Cardinal Keeler and delegates to the Baltimore conference  

U.S. Cardinal praises Alpha as he welcomes 580 North American church leaders to conference

Left: Cardinal Keeler and delegates to the Baltimore conference 

A Catholic Cardinal in America has spoken warmly of the Alpha course to Catholic leaders in the USA, saying how parishes in his diocese have found it to be “a wonderful way to lead people to a personal encounter... with the living Jesus Christ.”
    Cardinal William H. Keeler, Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore, was opening a conference for 580 church leaders - almost all priests or lay leaders of Catholic churches across America - in Baltimore in April.
   His address was presented to the delegates on video because he himself was in Rome at the time. Having spoken of the “wonderful testimony of the good news touching and even transforming the lives of individuals who have attended these Alpha courses”, he went on to describe the impact this was having on the church. In addition,” he said, “those who complete the Alpha course are ready and eager to take part in the small communities that are forming in parishes - ready and eager to learn more about our church and her sacraments and to serve and evangelise others.” The Cardinal’s warm endorsement of Alpha within the US is the latest of several significant endorsements of the course by senior Catholic churchmen around the world. In New Zealand, the Archbishop of Wellington, Cardinal Thomas Williams, opened an Alpha conference in July 1997,  saying, “News of Alpha has been spreading fast and many churches - my own included - are becoming eager to learn more of its content and method, and of what Alpha might do in energising the life and mission of our parishes.

Cadinal Thomas Williams of New Zealand
Cardinal Thomas Williams of New Zealand

   “I am a learner, ready and willing to absorb all I can of what I already know to be a remarkably effective course.”
   After the conference, the Cardinal’s Auxiliary Bishop of Wellington, Bishop John Dew, declared in his diocesan newspaper, “Both Cardinal Tom and I would be very happy to see Alpha used within the Catholic Church.”

'We want to evagelise, but we don't seem to have found the right method. I think that the Alpha course offers easily the best method so far invented'
Rt. Rev'd Ambrose Griffiths, OSB, Bishop of Hexham & Newcastle
     In Britain, Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, wrote a warm message of welcome to hundreds of delegates attending three Catholic Alpha conferences held in Westminster Cathedral Hall.     And during an official visit to to the Convent of Jesus and Mary Language College in Willesden, north London, in 1997, he spoke with schoolchildren attending a Youth Alpha course there.
    Several Catholic bishops have opened Alpha conferences in the UK, including the Rt. Rev’d Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, and the Rt. Rev’d Ambrose Griffiths, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle.
    Bishop Griffiths told delegates, “We want to evangelise, but we don’t seem to have found the right method. I think that the Alpha course offers easily the best method so far invented.”
    In Cardinal Keeler’s speech opening the Baltimore conference recently, he referred to Pope John Paul II’s desire to make the “new evangelisation a major theme of our church for the great Jubilee of the year 2000.”
Cardinal Hume
Cardinal Hume meets schoolchildren attending Youth Alpha courses at the Convent of Jesus and Mary Language College in North London

170 French Catholics attend Alpha conferences in London

French delegates to the London Alpha conference
French delegates to the London Alpha conference
Around 170 French Catholics - including 30 priests - attended Alpha Conferences at Holy Trinity Brompton, London, in February and June. The course’s popularity is growing fast in France following the recent publication of the Alpha materials in French.
   Some 120 French churchpeople attended the first conference and around 50 attended the second. A special live translation service was provided for the benefit of the French delegates, enabling them to listen to all the talks in French through headphones.
   Around 95 per cent of the French population are baptised as Catholics but only a small proportion attend church regularly.
    Many of those who attended wrote letters of thanks to say how they were profoundly moved by what they heard at the conference and that they now intend to set up Alpha courses at their home churches.
    Hundreds of other French Catholic leaders have attended special Alpha training sessions throughout France in recent months. By next year, it is believed that around 3,000 French church leaders will have received training in running Alpha courses.
    It is not known exactly how many courses are now running in France, but it is estimated that it will grow considerably during the next year.
    In March, hundreds of French-speaking church leaders gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for an Alpha conference.
WHAT CARDINAL KEELER TOLD U.S. LEADERS
This is an edited extract of what Cardinal Keeler said to North American delegates at the Balti-more Alpha conference in April:
  Because of long standing commitments to be in Rome during these days, I regret that I cannot be there in person to welcome you to this conference and to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
    Our Lord Jesus has called each of us to go out and proclaim the good news, to be instruments in helping others to know how, through his death and resurrection and through his gift of the Holy Spirit, he calls us to holiness and calls us to bring that same message of the call for holiness, the call to service of God in God’s kingdom, to other people.
     Pope John Paul II has made the new evangelisation a major theme of the preparation of our church for the great Jubilee of the year 2000.     Now it’s clear that evangelisation is a priority for Christians, for us as Catholics, and it brings us face to face with a very practical issue, ‘How do we respond to this calling? What do we do in our parishes and in our ministries?’
     Here in the archdiocese of Baltimore, several of our parishes and one of our campus ministry programmes have found that Alpha is a wonderful way to lead people, people with no Christian background as well as ordinary parishioners, to a personal encounter, a personal meeting, with the living Jesus Christ.

We are hearing wonderful testimony of the good news touching and even transforming the lives of individuals who have attended these Alpha courses.
     In addition, those who complete the Alpha course are ready and eager to take part in the small communities that are forming in parishes - ready and eager to learn more about our church and her sacraments and to serve and evangelise others.
   During the recent visit of Pope John Paul II to Mexico City, he promulgated his apostolic exhortation following the synod for America.

There he spoke so emphatically about the new evangelisation, about our role in being open to the Holy Spirit in our lives and being messengers for Jesus to others - a work of witnessing to God’s holiness, and calling others to that holiness, which is so important and which, I pray, will be at the heart of this Alpha Conference.
    My hope for all of the churches represented here is that our churches will be places where people can encounter our Lord Jesus, where people can experience personally the power of the Holy Spirit as a power which transforms - a power which enables us and our people to be agents in going out and touching and transforming the world around us.

The Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver has issued an invitation to his clergy to attend a Catholic Alpha conference there in July, describing the course as ‘a most effective tool of evangelization.’ The Most Rev’d Adam Exner wrote, “Why am I inviting you to this conference? “The Alpha course has been used in may countries throughout the world and has proved to be a most effective tool of evangelization. “It gives us practical ways of sharing our faith with others: with those who have never heard of Christ, with those who have fallen away from their faith, with those who wish to grow into a deeper personal relationship with Christ and His Church.“The Great Jubilee of Christ’s Birth is a unique moment in the history of the Church and of the world.“Alpha could be one way for you to answer the call of the Spirit to bring about the new Springtime of Faith and Christian Living desired by Pope John Paul II and to help make your parish an evangelizing community.”

© The Alpha Head Office
Holy Trinity Brompton Brompton Road London SW7 1JA
ENGLAND Tel: +44 171 581 8255 Fax: +44 171854 8536
alpha.office@htb.org.uk