Roberta and Diego are passionate about Alpha for young people. After meeting Nicky Gumbel two years ago, Diego immediately knew it was something that would make an impact in his parish. In the same year, Roberta was doing Alpha training and realised its potential in terms of prayer and worship. And it is Alpha that has brought the now married couple together.
What kind of impact do you think Alpha has made in your lives?
D: Alpha has definitely changed the way in which I pray, and the relationship that I have with my parish. Over time, I’ve become more and more convinced that Alpha is the perfect instrument for evangelisation.
R: Alpha for me was like a shower of love. That might be a strange expression but for me it is the only way I can express it. Before trying Alpha I knew about elements of God, but I had not felt certain things in my relationship with Him. Realising that difference and that I could really know him more did feel like an absolute shower of love rushing over me. Alpha has also changed my relationships with other people in the community, so much so that the first people who knew that Diego and I were going to get married were the people from Alpha.
How do you make Jesus’s message relevant for the youth in Italy?
R: The fact that Alpha encourages us not to wait for the young people to get the desire to know God, but to take Jesus’s message into metropolitan areas – the pubs, the bars – and wherever young people get together is amazing.
D: That is how God works, in ways that aren’t always traditional. The best thing about Alpha is that you do not have to wait for the youth to come to you. We are able to go to them, talk to them face to face, get to know them and involve them with the faith.
What are the biggest things that Alpha provides for young people?
R: Alpha is not like a sermon or a catechism that just tells people about the love of God. It allows you to experience the love of God with and through the people who are on Alpha with you and who help you on your journey. Everyone prays and worships together.
D: One thing that I really believe is in the importance of welcoming people, and of being open to all kinds of people. That is what Alpha has taught our parish and it’s a tangible experience that will remain with me forever. And that is especially relevant for the youth today. You cannot take them for granted because they really respond to the way we welcome them.
Have you faced any challenges working with Alpha in Italy?
D: It has actually gone really well. We haven’t encountered any real difficulties. We have seen that people have a hunger for the love of God, and are enjoying the chance to find answers to their questions. It has been working really well, we haven’t really faced any challenges.
We are very enthusiastic about Alpha because we have seen convincing results. We are working to spread Alpha to other parishes, and we are also working outside of the parishes - not only do we want to work in a religious or church context, but we want to simply go out and meet ordinary people, face to face, who might want to do Alpha.
What excites you most about Alpha in Italy in the future? And where do you see yourselves in the future?
R: I would like to continue with this project and in the next ten years, I hope that Alpha will have significantly taken root in Italy. I hope that people in Italy will see that even though Alpha comes from overseas and from a branch of Christianity outside of the Catholic tradition, it can still work for us here. The spirit of God doesn’t just blow in certain environments and areas - it can reach anywhere.
D: For me Alpha has changed my life. It’s natural that when you have a lovely experience you want to share it with other people. So in the next ten years I see myself working with other parishes and teaching them how to do Alpha.