Alpha in Action

Alpha in Action

Italy

Alpha for me was like a shower of love.

Roberta and Diego are passionate about Alpha for young people. After meeting Nicky Gumbel two years ago, Diego immediately knew it was something that would make an impact in his parish. In the same year, Roberta was doing Alpha training and realised its potential in terms of prayer and worship. And it is Alpha that has brought the now married couple together.

 

What kind of impact do you think Alpha has made in your lives?

D: Alpha has definitely changed the way in which I pray, and the relationship that I have with my parish. Over time, I’ve become more and more convinced that Alpha is the perfect instrument for evangelisation.

R: Alpha for me was like a shower of love. That might be a strange expression but for me it is the only way I can express it. Before trying Alpha I knew about elements of God, but I had not felt certain things in my relationship with Him. Realising that difference and that I could really know him more did feel like an absolute shower of love rushing over me. Alpha has also changed my relationships with other people in the community, so much so that the first people who knew that Diego and I were going to get married were the people from Alpha.

 

How do you make Jesus’s message relevant for the youth in Italy?

R: The fact that Alpha encourages us not to wait for the young people to get the desire to know God, but to take Jesus’s message into metropolitan areas – the pubs, the bars – and wherever young people get together is amazing.

D: That is how God works, in ways that aren’t always traditional. The best thing about Alpha is that you do not have to wait for the youth to come to you. We are able to go to them, talk to them face to face, get to know them and involve them with the faith.

 

What are the biggest things that Alpha provides for young people?

R: Alpha is not like a sermon or a catechism that just tells people about the love of God. It allows you to experience the love of God with and through the people who are on Alpha with you and who help you on your journey. Everyone prays and worships together.

D: One thing that I really believe is in the importance of welcoming people, and of being open to all kinds of people. That is what Alpha has taught our parish and it’s a tangible experience that will remain with me forever. And that is especially relevant for the youth today. You cannot take them for granted because they really respond to the way we welcome them.

That is how God works, in ways that aren’t always traditional.

Have you faced any challenges working with Alpha in Italy?

D: It has actually gone really well. We haven’t encountered any real difficulties. We have seen that people have a hunger for the love of God, and are enjoying the chance to find answers to their questions. It has been working really well, we haven’t really faced any challenges.

We are very enthusiastic about Alpha because we have seen convincing results. We are working to spread Alpha to other parishes, and we are also working outside of the parishes - not only do we want to work in a religious or church context, but we want to simply go out and meet ordinary people, face to face, who might want to do Alpha.

 

What excites you most about Alpha in Italy in the future? And where do you see yourselves in the future?

R: I would like to continue with this project and in the next ten years, I hope that Alpha will have significantly taken root in Italy. I hope that people in Italy will see that even though Alpha comes from overseas and from a branch of Christianity outside of the Catholic tradition, it can still work for us here. The spirit of God doesn’t just blow in certain environments and areas - it can reach anywhere.

D: For me Alpha has changed my life. It’s natural that when you have a lovely experience you want to share it with other people. So in the next ten years I see myself working with other parishes and teaching them how to do Alpha.

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Sheela's Story

Sheela's Story

 

The idea of running Alpha in the workplace honestly stemmed from a practical reason – late working hours were a barrier to my colleagues being able to attend Alpha at church. It made sense to bring Alpha to the workplace for those who were interested to give it a go.

I remember feeling quite nervous and unsure the first time we ran it back in 2014. I didn’t know what to expect or if anyone would even turn up! ‘Ye of little faith’ I remember a friend saying to me when we ended up with a solid group of about 20 in that first round. Since then, we’ve run Alpha four times - sometimes with larger groups, sometimes with smaller groups - but each experience has never failed to be just as amazing.

The most interesting aspect for me about running Alpha in our workplace was the immediate connection that people made from having something fundamental in common – where they work. There was little need for breaking the ice and discussions took off from day 1 with guests feeling comfortable sharing their thoughts and perspectives.

Alpha in the workplace complements what the church is doing by reaching out to a community that might not have been able to be reached. So many of us know that being out there in the corporate world trying to make it in the great rat race can get tiring and it’s only a matter of time before one begins to ask “Is there more to life that this?” – which is a question that was on the minds of our guests when they came. Alpha provided that safe space for conversations that might not have taken place otherwise.

The most memorable account from a guest for me comes from a guy who had attended our first ever run of Alpha. Post-Alpha, he told us that while was hesitant initially about the whole idea, eventually the weekly sessions became a place of refuge for him in the busyness of work. He said that it was a truly unexpected experience - “Work is what I had associated with stress and a lack of peace but through Alpha, work became a place I found hope, peace and faith.”

It’s not smooth sailing all the time but it is stories like this and many more of that nature that remind me that even if it’s for one person each round, it’s still worth it. And I’d just love to encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to just give it a go! The training and material make the process really simple to get started. Your adventure of a lifetime in running Alpha is just around the corner… trust me, it’s worth it!

Work is what I had associated with stress and a lack of peace but through Alpha, work became a place I found hope, peace and faith.
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