By Katie Ascough - 25 October, 2019
The Alpha Ireland Conference 2019 was hosted by Alpha Ireland at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, Co. Laois from 18 to 19 October.
Many have said that last weekend marked a turning point for evangelisation in Ireland as hundreds of clergy and laity turned out.
Among attendees were recently ordained Bishop Michael Router of Armagh, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin, and the Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Glendalough.
The conference theme of “discovery” was a call to church leaders to take another look at parish life and to explore ways of making parishes in Ireland truly mission-focused again. Keynote speaker Ron Huntley, co-founder of Divine Renovation Ministry and co-author of Unlocking Your Parish, gave step-by-step guides for raising up leaders and creating a welcoming culture in a parish.
On the conference, Alpha Ireland National Director, Dominic Perrem, stated: “We are so pleased and inspired by the hope that is brewing in the Church today; we saw bishops, priests, and people from all over Ireland gain fresh hope this weekend.
I have heard from many participants that this conference was about ‘something shifting’ in the Church — we seem to be seeing the New Evangelisation coming alive in Ireland at last.”
The conference showcased how the Alpha course can slot into a church framework and create an environment that is truly open to evangelisation — one that is inviting, outward looking, and welcoming for young people coming back to the heart of the Church.
Developed as a short course at HTB in London, in 1990 Nicky Gumbel took over running Alpha and found that many people outside of the Church wanted to explore the Christian faith. Alpha now runs in every part of the global Church, including the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and all mainline Protestant denominations.
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha courses run all around the globe and are open to everyone. They can be run almost anywhere – cafés, churches, universities, homes – and generally have three key things in common: food, a talk or short film, and good conversation.
In his five-year pastoral plan for the diocese of Waterford and Lismore, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan aims to have Alpha running in every parish over the next five years. With the number of bishops and priests who attended the conference last weekend, Alpha may soon be at the heart of other churches and communities across Ireland.
To find out more about Alpha or to find a course near you, go to www.alphaireland.org.