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Is Alpha Catholic?

Over the years we have often been asked by parish leaders, "Is Alpha Catholic?". I've asked our Alpha Catholic Director, Diahne Goodwin, to address that question this month. Diahne writes:


As a catechetical leader, I was attracted to the evangelizing focus of Alpha, but concerned that it was “not Catholic.” The questions I had are questions I hear from many still....what about Catholic doctrine and tradition? Sacramental Theology? Will this program pull people away from the Catholic Church? Is it a watering down of our faith? After experiencing it,  I realized that Alpha is just that, alpha, a beginning. It is a start to an ongoing journey of growing in and learning about faith. With a heart turned toward Jesus, the desire and and capacity to go deeper is there. It is after this initial experience and decision that the the teachings of the Catholic faith can be offered. 

When I was learning how to drive my father, an engineer, sat in the passenger seat and began to explain to me how the engine worked as I moved to between gears. I sat in the driver’s seat with my head turned toward him, trying to look attentive, but my eyes glazed over and mind grew foggy. I had no idea what he was talking about and panic set in as I worried I would never understand this driving thing. I finally interrupted and said, “Dad, I just want to drive, not build an engine!” Eventually, after I had mastered the basics and grew in confidence about driving, what he said had more relevance and actually helped me become a better driver. But first I needed to hear and experience the basics for myself before I could go deeper.

Alpha is about being introduced to the person of Christ and making that initial decision to trust and follow him. It is about the Kerygma, the basic message that is the core and heart of our faith. It is the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. This is Christianity and it is Catholic. Pope Francis, has called for us to evangelize, to go outside, beyond our church doors, and meet people where they are, inviting them to meet Jesus in a gentle and welcoming way. Alpha is evangelization in action. 

I didn’t need to know the details of engine mechanics to begin to drive or even feel confident about driving. The appreciation for that came later.  We don’t need to understand 2000 years of Catholic teaching to know Jesus and have faith. That comes later as we continue to grow as disciples. 


Diahne joyfully serves the parishes of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (Acton/Boxboro) & St. Isidore (Stow) as a Pastoral Associate, overseeing Adult Faith Formation & Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.

  Contact Diahne at diahnegoodwin@alphausa.org

Some Endorsements

Archbishop Michael Byrnes

Fr. James Mallon, pastor and author of "Divine Renovation" shares how God has used Alpha at his church...