Tag: Alpha

Parish Evangelization Efforts Bear Fruit


This article originally appeared in The B.C. Catholic. Msgr. Greg Smith is a member of Renewal Ministries’ Canadian Board of Directors.


One hundred people turned up for a weekly faith study at Christ the Redeemer Parish, a sign pastor Msgr. Gregory Smith believes shows local evangelization efforts are working.

“We have, for a long time, made the Alpha course a very important priority at our parish and we’ve had a number of successful Alphas every year: some bigger, some smaller,” Msgr. Smith told The B.C. Catholic.

“This year, we decided to go big or go home.” The parish sent invitations to every family in the parish boundaries, Catholic or not, to Mass on Christmas Day. At that Mass, and on several following occasions, the pastor talked about Alpha during his homily.

“As a result, we had the largest Alpha we ever had.” An estimated 160 people joined Alpha at the start, and after the first few weeks, three-quarters of them were coming back regularly.

“We’ve never had such a response,” said Msgr. Smith.

He decided to harness that energy. Once the weekly Alpha program had run its course, the parish offered Discovery, a six-week faith formation program by Catholic Christian Outreach. About 75 Alpha alumni signed up.

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Alpha Unites Family, Deepens Faith

Sr. Ann Shields and Gemma MacDonald

An Alpha course changed the lives of everyone in high school senior Gemma MacDonald’s family. Gemma shared her story at the 2017 Lift Jesus Higher Rally.

After hearing about the program, the family of nominally practicing Catholics first encourage Gemma’s recently widowed, alcoholic grandfather to attend.

“On his weekend away (for a part of Alpha called the Holy Spirit weekend), my grandfather had a battle between lightness and darkness, and in the end, light won,” said Gemma. “He hasn’t had a desire to drink since then.”

Gemma’s grandfather agreed the weekend transformed his life: “After praying for the Holy Spirit to come, the next day, I didn’t have the urge to go in the liquor store,” he said.

He now spends most of his time helping with Alpha. He explained, “I think of the ten lepers who were cured; now I try to help others find Jesus like I found Him.”

His conversion encouraged the rest of his family to attended Alpha together. They also went reluctantly, but experienced a tremendous conversion.

“It renewed all of our relationships and brought us deeper into our faith,” said Gemma. “Our family dynamic shifted from us working individually, to us working as a team.”

Since then, the family has started both youth and adult Alpha programs at other parishes. At sixteen, Gemma even became the volunteer coordinator for adult ministry at a parish.

“The gifts of the Holy Spirit are working through us,” concluded Gemma’s father, David. “I think they can work through everybody. You just have to be present.”

To locate an Alpha course near you, visit www.alphacanada.org or www.alphausa.org.