The experience acquired since 2014 now justifies the publication of Unlocking Your Parish. Making Disciples, Raising Up Leaders with Alpha (The Word Among Us Press, 2019). Co-written with Ron Huntley, a layman who is Director of evangelization at St. Benedict, this book explains what Divine Renovation was already telling us in a clear and repeated way, but in a less complete and systematically thought-out way, namely that Alpha is a most fruitful instrument of pastoral and missionary renewal.
The Alpha Course, as many already know, is a tool of evangelization through which thousands of souls have had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the last three decades. What everyone may not know, however, is how Alpha can serve as a driving force for the missionary conversion of an entire parish by forming lay people for the mission; how it promotes a change in ecclesial culture by refocusing the Church community on its essential task, which is to offer Jesus to the world. In fact, the three virtues of the Alpha Course according to Mallon and Huntley are: making disciples, training leaders, and transforming church culture.
The missionary conversion that the Church is currently attempting involves a change of culture, that is, a change that affects our understanding of the Church and our way of being Christian. In the past, ecclesial culture encouraged us to place most of the Church's pastoral and missionary responsibility on the shoulders of priests. However, without denying priests their role as pastors exercising the royal responsibility of governing the people of God, the Church now knows more acutely that the universal vocation to holiness also implies the vocation of all the baptized to missionary commitment in their own fields. It is to the fulfilment of this missionary vocation that Alpha can contribute.
The experience of Mallon and Huntley in Halifax shows that Alpha becomes an excellent catalyst for the involvement of the whole community in the mission field, when the Course facilitation team is made up of former Course participants who are provided with appropriate coaching, with the objective of discerning and developing their talents and charisms. After 2 or 3 years of service in the Alpha missionary team, the training and experience accumulated allows new leaders to be assigned to the mission in other parish ministries. And this is how the entire ecclesial culture is gradually renewed, thanks to Alpha's missionary spirit, spread and communicated to the whole ecclesial body.
R. Huntley, J. Mallon, Unlocking Your Parish. Making Disciples, Raising Up Leaders with Alpha, The Word Among Us Press, 2019.