We were delighted in March to welcome Maria Gonzalez Dyne to Alpha as Director of Catholic Development for EMENA.
Below you will find some of the exciting projects she has already been involved in and supported since joining the team.
Partnership with Divine Renovation
In March, together with Divine Renovation, Alpha hosted a webinar entitled “What is God Saying To The Church?”. The event, led by Fr James Mallon, Bishop Robert Barron, and Nicky Gumbel, was the largest Catholic context event ever, encouraging parishes to move from maintenance to mission. More than 6,780 people from 88 countries registered. The focus of the webinar was to ask “What has God been saying to the Church throughout the last two years? What have we learnt? What should our focus be moving forward?”.
Many of the bishops who participated have let us know how deeply it was appreciated. One bishop in Europe wrote to say: “Thanks for a wonderful and inspiring webinar this evening. After a fairly intense and challenging day, it was great to step back and reflect on the bigger picture and where God is calling us. The three speakers brought different experiences but really complemented one another.”
The webinar was translated into Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Polish, and almost 1500 registered from around 30 countries in EMENA. Do watch out for the next Webinar which will be taking place in November, with Fr. James Mallon and Sr. Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, and leading on the forthcoming Synod on Synodality.
World Youth Day 2023
A small steering committee has been meeting to share and prepare Alpha’s engagement in and contribution to the forthcoming World Youth Day, which will be taking place in Portugal in August 2023. We are privileged as Alpha to have been invited to be part of the preparation committee alongside a large number of other Catholic organisations, and whilst in Rome later this year we will be meeting with one of the key priests leading the World Youth Day.
Strategic Church Relationship Builders
We are thrilled to see the impact of the work carried out by the Catholic Strategic Church Relationship Builders (SCRBs) in 5 countries across EMENA. This investment is proving to be very positive and whilst we need to take a long-term perspective approach, we are already seeing a significant impact across EMENA. We are encouraged by the increase in strategic churches considering running Alpha and in Hub churches across the region. We trust and pray that through this investment in France, Austria, Italy, Portugal, Poland (and hopefully Spain as of September), we will see many more strategic churches running Alpha, and many more lives transformed. We are excited to be travelling to the Diocese of Chicago at the end of September with a number of SCRBs and Bishops, to give them a taste of Alpha and hopefully encourage them to begin to run and experience Alpha in their Dioceses.
Alpha Vision Days
Alpha Spain organised an extraordinary Alpha Vision Day, with more than 200 hundred people attending from all over Spain. Worship, conferences, workshops and the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit made the day a total success. They are now considering organising a larger event next year, for a much larger audience, so do watch out for it!
Nicky Gumbel recorded a fantastic session around Vision, focusing on the role of lay people in the Church. Alpha Portugal has also recorded a session with Nicky and will be launching it during their Vision Day on 10th September.
Alpha Youth Camp
These last few months have been particularly intense for our friends in Alpha Italy! For the very first time, one of the Italian Dioceses, Isernia, with the oversight and support from Alpha Italy, are organising the first Alpha Youth Camp during the first week of August. The event will bring together around 300 young people from Italy, Spain, Poland, Ireland and other countries, with speakers from the UK (Dan Blythe, Global Youth Director, and Dez Johnston, EMENA Alpha Youth Director) and the US. We are thrilled and honoured that Pope Francis will be offering a private audience to welcome the team on Friday 5th August. Please pray for the Pope’s health, and watch out for the pictures!