Does Your Parish Have a Shallow End?

Picture of feet in a pool

Does Your Parish Have a Shallow End?

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A crazy thing happened the other day.

A lady who had moved out of the neighbourhood a few years back dropped by. We didn’t know her well, but she knew that our kids went to Catholic school, and she wanted to know more about it.

Though she had little familiarity with religion, she was considering Catholic school because she heard that it might be better for her child to be around a Christian culture.

She asked my wife about religion class, what it entailed, what would be expected of her kids. She indicated that she was even willing to do RCIA if it would get her kids into a better school system.

Hearing her questions, my wife invited her to come to Alpha the following night, and she actually came. Without going into too much detail I will say that her questions at Alpha were amazing.

My wife was very moved afterwards. She told me,

“If we weren’t running Alpha, I would have had nothing to invite her to to ask those questions!"

One of the images I’ve been thinking of for the parish is a swimming pool. It came to me when I heard the Liturgy described as an expression of the depth of our faith.

But what about the people who aren’t ready for the depths? Does our parish have a shallow end, where they can dip their toes in and wade around a bit?

Does your parish have a shallow end, where they can dip their toes in and wade around a bit?

Since we started Alpha, our parish does have a shallow end. It’s where they can learn about the core concepts and have an encounter with the heart of it all. Like Pope Francis says, it all starts with encounter.

We hope that everyone will one day swim over to the deep end, but we don’t push them in. We invite them in and swim alongside them. Slowly, we invite them at their own pace to go deeper. Quite often, they do... 

I hope your parish also has a shallow end. And I hope that lots of people learn to swim there. 

Being Church means being God’s people, in accordance with the great plan of his fatherly love. This means that we are to be God’s leaven in the midst of humanity. It means proclaiming and bringing God’s salvation into our world, which often goes astray and needs to be encouraged, given hope and strengthened on the way. The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel. (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 114)

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My wife said "If we weren’t running Alpha, I would have had nothing to invite her to to ask those questions!" — Josh Canning

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