Evangelization program for inquiring minds

A Taste of Alpha for Catholics, an introduction to the Alpha evangelization program, will be presented on Thursday, July 19, and Friday, July 20, in Vineland.

A non-denominational course developed by Anglican brothers and sisters at Holy Trinity Brompton in London, England, Alpha has been endorsed by the preacher of the papal household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa and some Catholic bishops, as well as Protestant leaders like the late Charles W. Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

“Alpha gives everyone the opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly setting,” according to the Alpha website (www.alphausa.org). “The Alpha course usually meets once a week for 10 weeks, including a one-day or weekend getaway. Sessions begin with a meal, followed by a short talk and time to discuss what’s been taught.”

Jim Marketto, chairman for the Youth and Young Adult Committee at the Parish of All Saints in Millville, participated in the course and believes it “has great potential as an evangelization tool, especially for the young adult community.”

In post-Alpha sessions, he said, religious leaders can discuss questions brought up in the small group discussion, and the process can be a useful tool in bringing people back to the church.

“Alpha is a first step,” Marketto said. “Think of the story of Jesus encountering Apostles on the seven mile journey to Emmaus. Alpha is the first step on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. It is the first step in the salvation journey.”

Steve Mitchell, the national director of Alpha for Catholics, is a deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit where he has facilitated Alpha courses at 25 parishes. He will present 90-minute sessions on Alpha in Vineland on Thursday, July 19, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., at the Ramada Inn, 2216 W. Landis Avenue & Route 55 (32A), and on Friday, July 20, at the Knights of Columbus hall, 1803 North East Ave. To register visit www.alphausa.org/newjersey

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