Archbishop Nicholas Chia speaking at the meeting of Alpha facilitators on Nov 11.
Catholic practices are allowed in parish-run Alpha courses despite its roots as an Anglican programme, says the archdiocese’s Alpha Advisory and Coordinating Team (AACT).
Making the sign of the cross and the use of Catholic prayers are allowed when Alpha is being run in a Catholic parish, said AACT member Derrick Chee.
Mr Chee, an AACT member, was speaking to 60 Alpha facilitators from 15 parishes and two church groups at Blessed Sacrament Church on Nov 11.
The meeting was to review the results of a survey of Alpha groups held earlier this year and study the positioning of Alpha within the Catholic Church. It was also to see how to run the programme, aimed at presenting Christian principles to non-Christians as well as act as a refresher course for Christians, more effectively.
Other possible inclusions – a 10-15 minute talk on What is the Catholic Church and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
AACT is also looking to partner Singapore Pastoral Institute (SPI) to produce short supplementary videos on these topics, said Mr Chee.
An exception is when Alpha is conducted outside the Catholic parish or when there are many non-Christians or Protestants in the course.
When incorporating Catholic elements, Mr Chee said that the course should be kept intact in its “ethos, syllabus and contents”. Any subtraction or addition for enhancement should not turn Alpha into an RCIA or a faith formation course.
The Alpha programme was developed in the late 1970s by the Anglican Church in the United Kingdom as “a means of presenting the basic principles of the Christian faith to new Christians in a relaxed and informal setting”. It was later adapted for non-churchgoers as a practical introduction to the Christian faith, according to
the Alpha Singapore Office website.
The Alpha programme is a 10-week, 15-session course comprising a series of talks on video covering topics on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the Bible, prayer and healing, with a day or weekend focusing on the Holy Spirit. Talks are followed by group discussion.
The Catholic Church in Singapore first introduced the course at the Church of St Ignatius in 2000.
AACT was officially launched in May this year to coordinate the various Alpha groups in the Catholic Church here and transmit information and training material between the Alpha Singapore Office, an independent group, and Catholic groups.