You may have heard of how parishes are experiencing a growth in faith and engagement by introducing Alpha or Catholic Guy Impact Groups. Over the past few years, the community of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish Greystanes, has embraced both.
On Tuesday, 15 October, more than 50 people – participants and guests – gathered in a celebratory dinner giving thanks for the fruits of both these encounters.
Alpha and The Catholic Guy Impact Groups are tools for facilitating small group encounters to come to a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Alpha is a series of sessions looking at different questions around faith – based on the Good News of Jesus – all based around food, a talk and good conversation.
The Catholic Guy Impact Groups also offers a model of small groups giving people the opportunity to spend time with the Word, breaking it open and embedding it into their daily life experience. They exist so that people can know and be known, love and be loved, serve and be served.
The social evening at Our Lady Queen of Peace modelled an Alpha evening, where everyone gathered for a meal prepared by an amazing hospitality team, which were all volunteers from the parish. Great conversation set the room abuzz, with old and new friends sharing stories. Joyous song and prayer followed where people were invited to open their minds and hearts to the Spirit, recalling how the Holy Spirit had impacted them through the experience of Alpha and Impact Groups.
Desiree Molloy, coordinator of the Impact Groups and a member of the Alpha leadership team shared that people often have an experience of Alpha and then desire to continue small group sharing. The Impact Groups within the parish offer that opportunity to continue to be a disciple – a learner – and this, Desiree shared, is a life-long process.
Participants of both the Alpha and Impact Groups shared powerful experiences throughout the evening offering much to consider as to how we can invite others to grow and share our faith. Below are a sample of the responses from various participants.
“The Alpha and Impact Group experience has helped me once again awaken my faith, my need and desire to continue a growing a deeper relationship with God.”
“Small groups are the way the church has to go. A small group allows you to become personally engaged with other people. In a large parish like OLQP [Our Lady Queen of Peace], how many people pass in and out of our church and we don’t get to know them?”
“The Impact Group has strengthened my faith in many ways and I always look forward to coming together as a group for Prayer and fellowship in something we all believe in.”
“The Alpha Course helped me look at Jesus in a different light. He was more personable, more relatable. And I believe that God loves me unconditionally.”
“The Alpha videos were relatable. They were real people. They were insightful videos that made an impact.”
“Coming together for Alpha and Impact Groups is like finding a compass that helps steer us back on our path. The Holy Spirit a gentle breeze that lifts the fog.”
“We have the Sunday Mass but people are hungry for something outside of that during the week.”
The Pastoral Planning Office are offering an Intensive Alpha Training Weekend on 8 – 10 November 2019 at the Institute for Mission, Blacktown.
If you would like to experience the Alpha Program and consider it as a tool for Evangelisation and Faith Formation within your community, then register by contacting Lisa at email@example.com or call 8838 3497.
Lisa Bright is a Project Officer in the Pastoral Planning Office, Diocese of Parramatta.