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icon: Greenwich Church Cross Catholic bishop: 'try it first hand'

The Catholic Bishop of Johannesburg, South Africa, wrote to all his priests recommending that they attend an Alpha conference in the city, reminding them of the Pope's words, "For the disciple of Christ to evangelize is an obligation of love."

Bishop Reginald Orsmond, who opened the conference for nearly 1,000 delegates of all denominations in April, continued his letter saying, "Looking at the present situation I would have to say, as do many others, that we are more into Church maintenance than into church expansion or outreach or simply direct evangelization.

"I can hear you saying, 'But we have no time'. True, but we are in the period of collaborative ministry whereby the laity should have a deeper and more personal involvement in the work of evangelization. They have to be empowered for their share in the mission of Jesus. And many want to.

"Remember that one of the roles of the priests is to be a catalyst, to empower people and create for them opportunities for the exercise of their God-given gifts, and not to be an obstacle.

"For this reason I encourage as many of you as possible to attend the Alpha conference... This particular programme is spreading rapidly within the Catholic church worldwide. I would like you to have first hand experience of the possibilities of this programme.

"Bring with you those in the parish who have a heart and a calling for this work. We know from experience that if the priest in the parish is not supportive, the flame of the Spirit gets crushed."

There are now 881 churches of all denominations running Alpha in South Africa.

Source : Alpha news newspaper (July-October 2001)
Author : Unknown

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