May 1, 2023 | Opinion
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Deacon Randy Potempa and his wife, Peggy Potempa, attend the 2023 Alpha Conference in January. COURTESY OF PEGGY POTEMPA

Alpha: A wonderful evangelization tool


In January my husband, Deacon Randy Potempa and I were privileged to attend the Alpha Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Out of the 1,600 in attendance from all over the United States, 800 attendees were Catholic. This was said to be the largest number of Catholics ever to attend an Alpha Conference. They offered Mass at St. Anthony in Fort Lauderdale the first evening and their local bishop presided.

Alpha is becoming better known to the Catholic population as a wonderful evangelization tool. There were many priests in attendance, and we had fabulous Catholic presenters in the general sessions which could only help in the area of ecumenism. Dr. Mary Healy, who is a scripture professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and a bestselling author and international speaker, was one of them. A priest from Haiti was another presenter. They were both excellent.

Our parish, St. Henry in Aurora, actually started using Alpha to evangelize back in 2003. We have seen many changes in Alpha and although we stopped for a while because we were caring for my husband’s mother, we have begun again and the conference helped us in many ways. We connected with other Catholics who are using the “Alpha in a Catholic Context” program and learned some new ways to approach the praying during the Holy Spirit weekend, and we were able to see Nikki and Pippa Gumble. (Nikki Gumble brought Alpha into the mainstream, making it an evangelization tool for any Christian denomination.) Best of all, it is offered for free to run in our Diocese of Owensboro parishes: we need only go to and register the program we will run. The training videos are provided as well as the program itself.

There are various choices: Alpha in a Catholic Context, Alpha for Teens, and whether you want to run Alpha with just Nikki Gumble or use the Alpha film series whose hosts go all over the world, (which is the one we use at St. Henry). Our next Alpha began April 26, and runs from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings. It begins with dinner, then a 25-minute video, followed by dessert and discussion until 7:30. Our parish is small so we do not have the resources for a weekend away, so we do the Holy Spirit weekend on the Saturday between the seventh and the eighth week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We think Alpha is an amazing tool to help Catholics grow in faith! Check it out.

Learn more about Alpha at You may also contact Dr. Jeff Andrini in the diocese’s Office of Evangelization and Discipleship at [email protected], or Peggy Potempa at [email protected].

Peggy Potempa belongs to St. Henry Parish in Aurora.

Originally printed in the April 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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