BY Annie May
On Oct. 16, Sacred Heart began a new program on campus called Alpha.
Although traditionally a ten-week program, Alpha will be a five-week program occurring this semester and again in the Spring semester.
Originating from London in the 1970s, Alpha is designed to help people of all faiths and perspectives have open discussions in a judgment-free environment.
Each session begins with a meal, followed by a short talk and video. It then concludes with a group discussion based on the content of the video.
Father Ed Stewart of Campus Ministry believes that Alpha will help Sacred Heart students think about the big questions in life and eventually be able to answer those big questions.
“There are lots of immediacies that students are confronted with in terms of course requirements, major requirements, what they hope their profession is going to be,” said Stewart. “But there are even bigger questions. What’s our place here? What will be the ultimate meaning of our life that material things and technology will never fill?”
Stewart attended the National Alpha Conference in Arizona at the beginning of 2019. After seeing an immense amount of young people participating, he knew that it would have a place in the Sacred Heart community and began working to get it off the ground.
Senior Chris Quigley, along with other students and faculty members helped to bring Alpha to Sacred Heart’s campus this semester.
“Throughout your four years in college you will undoubtedly experience inner growth and change, both of which create the framework of who you are and who you will become,” said Quigley. “During such times, we often find ourselves questioning and doubting many things such as our faith and purpose in life.”
Although it started as a Christian-based environment, Alpha has progressed. This is an environment that welcomes students of all religious backgrounds or even those students who have no religious affiliation.
“Initially, its purpose was to present basic principles of the Christian faith in a relaxed and informal environment. As time progressed, its focus audience changed to people who are non-churchgoers and those who are questioning or want to learn more about the Christian faith,” said Quigley.
“Everyone is welcome and there’s nothing that you can’t say or believe. We just ask people to be respectful of each other, but we bless all legitimate questions,” said Stewart.
Alpha is designed as a structured program that has reoccurring members throughout each week’s meetings, rather than an environment where people can come and go depending on the week.
Sophomore Alicia Briley, a member of the peer ministry team at Sacred Heart, attended the first meeting of Alpha.
“It’s nice to have this program on campus. I started the Alpha program at my high school,” said Briley. “The atmosphere is so friendly and welcoming.”
Although this past week was the last chance to join Alpha for this semester, the program will embark on another five-week journey in the spring semester.