The Alpha Course is Now Here in the Near West Suburbs!
The acclaimed Alpha Course will be offered at St. Vincent Ferrer Church, 1530 Jackson Avenue, River Forest, IL, beginning on October 2, 2016. The course is intended for anyone wanting to deepen their faith: Catholics, those baptized in other denominations, those who are not baptized.
What is the Alpha Course?
The Alpha course seeks to explore the basics of the Christian faith and is described as “an opportunity to explore the meaning of life”. Alpha courses are currently being run in churches, homes, workplaces, prisons, universities and a wide variety of other locations. The course is being run around the world by all major Christian denominations. Alpha gives everyone the opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly setting. The Alpha course meets once a week for 10 weeks, including an optional weekend away. Each evening begins with a dinner followed by a short DVD presentation that looks at a different aspect of the Christian faith each week. This is followed by a time of discussion in small groups where everyone is welcome to contribute their opinion and ask questions. There is no charge for attending the Alpha course and, of course, there is no homework or examinations.
Who is Alpha for?
Alpha is for anyone and people attend from all backgrounds, religions, and viewpoints. Participants come to investigate questions about the existence of God, the purpose of life, the afterlife, the claims of Jesus, and more. Some people want to get beyond religion and find a relationship with God that really changes life. Others come for the close, long-lasting friendships that are built during the Alpha course. Some guests may have never been to church, others may have attended church occasionally but feel they have never really understood the basics of the Christian faith. Everyone is welcome.
What is discussed?
Over the 10 weeks of the Alpha course, participants explore the following topics: Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? How can we have faith? Why and how do I pray? Why and how should I read the Bible? How does God guide us? Who is the Holy Spirit? How can I resist evil? Why and how should I tell others? Does God heal today? What about the Church?
History of Alpha
Alpha was started in 1977 by the Reverend Charles Marnham, an assistant at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in London. It began as a course for church members on the basics of the Christian faith but later was used as an introduction for others interested in the faith. In 2008 over 33,500 courses were offered in 163 countries by Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches. Over 15 million people worldwide have attended an Alpha course.
Is the Alpha course approved by the Catholic Church?
Yes, in fact the leaders of the Alpha Course in France were invited to the November 2012 synod of bishops in Rome on the New Evangelization at which they spoke to all the bishops assembled. For Catechetical Sunday in 2012, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published on their website an article entitled, “A Review of the Best Evangelization Methods and Resources Available for Parish Outreach Efforts” by Fr. Anthony Krisak in which Alpha is recommended.
How can I join the Alpha course?
Alpha started at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in River Forest in the summer of 2013. Three courses have now been successfully completed. Alpha will start again on Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 6:30 pm in the Cabrini Room at St. Vincent Ferrer Church. Subsequent meetings are on ten successive Wednesdays at 6:30 pm starting October 5. Because a meal will be served, interested parties must register by phoning the SVF parish office: 708-366-7090 or emailing a member of the Alpha team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Testimonies from those who have taken Alpha
My spiritual life before taking Alpha was in limbo. I thought I was spiritual by just thinking about God and praying to Jesus from time to time when things weren’t going my way. Nothing was really happening when I prayed. It’s like I wasn’t really communicating with God. I didn’t have a sense that He was listening to me. I decided to come to Alpha because It allowed me to ask questions about God, Jesus, Religion, other faiths, and anything else pertaining to the Bible. I wanted a forum where I could question others’ beliefs and their faith as well as my own. I believed that accepting God on faith was not enough. I needed proof. And having faith was like fooling yourself. Like it was all make believe. What I appreciated about the Alpha course was the lack of pressure. I never felt that I was forced to stay or believe in anything what they were saying or explaining throughout the course. In the discussion groups I felt comfortable to ask my questions without being judged. It was a platform where I could express myself and question beliefs and find answers to my questions. It was an exciting part of the course. Through Alpha, I came to realize that faith is not about make believe, it is about trusting God. To get my answers, I need to trust God as the basis for my answers. I now have a personal relationship with God through Jesus and have never felt more at peace.
-Andrew Del Rossi