The Global Alpha - Catholic Context Board gathered together in Rome at the end of February to discuss and share about Alpha in the Catholic Church.
During their time in Rome three board members from Malaysia were introduced to Pope Francis and spoke to him about Alpha. The meeting was arranged by the Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Marino.
As well as meeting Pope Francis, members of the global board also met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin (Vatican Secretary of State), Cardinal Peter Turkson (President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace), Archbishop Arthur Roche (Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments), Salvatore Martinez (President of the Charismatic Renewal in Italy), Monsignor Melchor Sánchez de Toca y Alameda (Undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Culture), Monsignor Miguel Delgado (Undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for the Laity) and Archbishop David Moxon (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See).
The meeting with Pope Francis with Mass at the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Friday 28th February. Caroline Soon, Catholic Coordinator for Alpha in Asia Pacific, said:
"It was a profound and moving experience. After Mass, the Holy Father came back to the chapel and spent more than 10 minutes praying with us. One couls sense the presence of the Holy Spirit so profoundly. Fr John was able afterwards to share with the Holy Father about Alpha and how we live in the spirit of Evangelii Gaudium."
In Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis urges the Church to proclaim the kerygma, the heart of the gospel message, saying that ‘nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation ... It is the message capable of responding to the desire for the infinite which abides in every human heart’. The message, he writes, has to ‘concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, and most appealing and at the same time most necessary. The message is simplified, while losing none of its depth and truth and thus becomes all the more forceful and convincing.'
During their meetings in Rome the Board members were able to share stories of lives and parishes transformed by Alpha, to discuss the future for Alpha in a Catholic Context and to show how Alpha responds to Pope Francis’ vision for pastoral conversion: Alpha is a kerygmatic tool for parish renewal that equips parishes to go out and to reach those who are outside the Church, developing missionary disciples, and engaging and reaching young people.