Thoughts on Our Lady of Peace Parish Alpha

Tracy Horsley and Patty Cameron’s Story

My primary reason for joining the course was to experience Alpha first as a guest and to see how the online format would work before Tracy and I offered the course in our parish.  I had heard about the bonds that were made in groups during in-person courses and was surprised that the online experience provided the same deep and meaningful discussions.

Our first Alpha in June of 2020 was a huge success with approximately 28 to 34 guests and leaders joining us online each week through the summer.  We invited small group hosts from around our Diocese that had previous Alpha experience.  After all, it was the first time experiencing Alpha online. 

Planning and practicing for Alpha online is key!  We spent a lot of time in our first Alpha practicing on Zoom and figuring the tech that best worked for us.  We have been learning more each course and it is becoming easier each time.  Don’t let technical glitches get you down.  They are bound to happen and guests have been very patient and understanding on the occasions that we experience technical troubles.  

When preparing for our third Alpha I reached out to Angela Baker, a good friend of mine from Keswick Baptist Church, and asked her if she would like to join us on the team.  She joined us on the team as our only non-Catholic participant in the course.  During the course she approached Tracy and I about helping her to set up an Alpha at her church. The experience of being on an Alpha team with members from another Christian community has been an amazing blessing!  Tracy grew up going to Mass regularly with her family at St. Theresa’s Church, a worship site in the recently named “Our Lady of Peace” Parish.

Tracy fell away from regular Mass in early adulthood. Married in 1993, moved to Vancouver to complete a graduate degree, went to Mass occasionally while out west and moved back to Fredericton in 1995 to start a career and family.

Tracy was first invited to Alpha by a pastor at a local non-denominational church in 1999. She declined the invitation and lost contact with that pastor.

Tracy began feeling drawn to explore faith several years later and developed intense interest in New Age Spirituality. However, not satisfied, she signed up for an Alpha.  She thought it was hosted in a random place, but it “coincidentally” happened to be at the church where that same pastor who had invited her to Alpha was.

Tracy experienced a deep conversion (“metanoia”) during that Alpha and was involved in many Alphas with that community for several years (small group helper, host, home host, etc.)  

Tracy eventually felt called back to the Catholic Church and specifically to St. Theresa’s. The pastor there approached Tracy and asked her to coordinate an Alpha. She ran the first Alpha in the fall of 2008 with approximately 70 participants. The second Alpha in the spring of 2009. Followed-up with Fr. James Mallon’s course entitled “Catholicism 201”. Tracy became pregnant with her fourth child.  Although the response to Alpha in her parish community was very positive, she had not matured into a “culture of invitation”, so she retired the Alpha materials (manuals, posters, etc.) into a box in my basement.

In spring 2020, Tracy had a client who was interested in exploring his faith. As the Covid Pandemic had just hit full force and everyone was in lock-down, Tracy registered an “Alpha for Aphasia” online in order to access the Alpha for ESOL resources and adapt them for her client and retrieved the box of Alpha materials from her basement. One evening, while she was working on the materials, her Pastor contacted me to inquire about possibly running an Alpha online. “How amazing!”, I said, “did you know that I just dug-out this box of Alpha stuff yesterday? The Pastor asked her to talk with the Parish’s Pastoral Associate, Patty Cameron, to begin planning.

Patty had never experienced Alpha, so Tracy suggested participating in an online Alpha with Christ Central Church.  Patty agreed and from there Our Lady of Peace was well into planning an Alpha!

In summer 2021, Tracy was deeply inspired by the strengthening and success of collaborating with Keswick Ridge Baptist Church for their online Alpha that she decided to ask Angie Baker (their Alpha Admin) as well as Mark Rushworth (Elder and Alpha Admin at Christ Central Church) about their thoughts on collaborating to promote, pray, and perhaps do Team Training together as they all intended to host an Alpha this fall. Tracy is thinking that it would be lovely to have closer relationships with other faith communities who are offering Alpha. To serve one another and even serve together in helping others encounter Jesus in Alpha.  We are currently still in discussion about how to work this out, but all three communities have agreed to look into the possibilities and potential in this endeavour.

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