AILEEN Nasalio is a young Catholic who has “re-connected” with the Church; now she wants to head for prison.
The 20-year-old Brisbane woman is so fired with renewed faith that she would love to take the program that’s made such a difference for her and share it with prisoners.
“I really want to let people in prisons know that God loves them, to be forgiven,” she said.
Ms Nasalio recently completed the Alpha program, which offers people the chance to come together once a week for 10 weeks to share a meal, watch a video talk and discuss faith-related questions and issues.
In small groups, participants “explore the big issues around faith and unpack the basics of Christianity, addressing questions from ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘How can we have faith?’ to ‘Why and how do I pray?’ and ‘How does God guide us?’”
Ms Nasalio, a parishioner at Darra-Jindalee, is helping another parishioner Anna Scott lead the parish’s current Alpha program.
The Alpha program, although ideal as a renewal of faith for regular Mass-going Catholics, is also recommended as being suitable for anyone wanting to return to Mass or “re-connect” with the Church.
Evangelisation Brisbane project officer Mike Humphrys said the Alpha course “is another option for parishes to run so that Catholics can ask someone to ‘come and see’ by experiencing a meal, a talk and discussion”.
Ms Nasalio said “Alpha has changed me personally”.
“I went to Alpha to seek more of my faith and to strengthen it,” she said.
“I was Catholic but I wasn’t practising as much as I should.
“I thought Alpha was a way of regaining my relationship with Jesus.”
Although she was a regular Mass-goer, Ms Nasalio felt the need to “re-connect”.
“I was going to Mass every Sunday but I didn’t engage with Mass as much as I should,” she said.
She was involved in the music and youth ministries but still felt disconnected.
“Even though I was active (in the Church), I felt really frustrated because I had so many friends from different denominations, and they’ve really put it through my head that their church was the true church,” Ms Nasalio said.
“I was frustrated because I felt the teachings of our Church were not clear (to me).
“I was seeking more of the faith.
“Alpha has helped me re-engage with my Church.
“It taught me how to pray. It really deepened on how to connect with God.
“I really got a lot out of the videos. The Alpha videos were really was to understand.
“Every day, every experience, I encounter God or have the chance to experience Him in my everyday life.”
Now she hopes to share that with prisoners, through Alpha.
Ms Scott said the program was proving popular in the parish.
“We’ve had such a good response, we’re trying to keep the momentum going,” she said.
She said the parish hosted a pilot series of Alpha early in the year, followed up with its first fully fledged series in the third school term, and is running another one now.
“Primarily we’re reaching out for evangelisation,” Ms Scott said.
“People are inviting their family and friends.”
About 15 to 20 people attended the parish’s first Alpha series, and the current program has 11 new guests and three people backing up for a second program because they were unable to finish it the first time.
Ms Scott said 80 per cent of the 11 new guests “are not Catholic or don’t regularly attend church”.
“God is awesome,” she said.
“It’s so exciting; for my own personal faith it’s inspiring.
“It’s been a wonderful experience. It’s really helping people in adult faith.”
Ms Scott said Alpha was “a great program for the “un-Churched” or for people wanting to “re-connect” .
For more information about Alpha, contact Evangelisation Brisbane on (07) 3324 3440 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.