God conversations for school parents

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The Sydney Centre for Evangelisation’s Tania Rimac is “delighted” to assist Sydney Catholic Schools’ Family Educators offer the Alpha Christian formation program to parents of students. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Faith formation program set to benefit Sydney families

Several schools across the archdiocese will offer an introduction to the Gospel message for parents of Catholic schools who are unfamiliar with or would like to re-engage with the Christian faith.

In a joint initiative of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation (SCE) and Sydney Catholic Schools, nearly 30 Family Educators and their volunteer helpers recently completed a two-day coaching course in running Alpha for parents in their school and parish community.

Nine schools are set to provide the course in Term 3. The SCE’s Tania Rimac said she is “delighted” to support family educators in their efforts to evangelise families and help them to grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.

It has the ability to draw people in through invitation and welcome, powerful videos and testimonies, followed by opportunities for discussion and relationship building.” – Elsa Manu, Education Officer Sydney Catholic Schools

Alpha has been used successfully in Catholic parishes as an introductory tool to engage people in informal conversations about Jesus Christ and matters of Christian faith and life.

Elsa Manu, education officer at Sydney Catholic Schools, in the Church Engagement, Mission and Identity Directorate, said that the systemic school system provides an opportunity to interact with “many who are disaffiliated, disengaged or are simply disinterested” in what the Christian faith has to offer.

“We have found that Alpha is one of the most effective tools for engaging those at that grassroots level,” she explained. “It has the ability to draw people in through invitation and welcome, powerful videos and testimonies, followed by opportunities for discussion and relationship building.

The first cohort of Family Educators trained to offer Alpha formation for parents of Catholic school students. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“We acknowledge that the purpose of Alpha is simply to introduce people to the Kerygma and by no means do we encourage it as a replacement for RCIA or other Catholic formation programs. In fact, we are using it as a tool in the hope that it will lead our non-Catholic participants to consider taking the next step.”

Ivica Kovak, family educator at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Earlwood, said he saw the value in Alpha as a welcoming space where people are invited to explore and ask questions about Christian experience without judgement.

“The Our Lady of Lourdes community has a great spirit and many people do know each other, but like most places life is busy and many don’t have the opportunity to think, discuss and reflect on the deep questions in life that really matter,” Mr Kovak said.

“But if we don’t provide an opportunity and space for deep reflection then we really are not doing our best as a Catholic school.” Mr Kovak said he hoped that Alpha would give parents an opportunity to reassess whether their deepest values were reflected in their everyday lives and possibly make practical decisions to bring them into better alignment.

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