Archbishop Vincent Nichols welcomed prelates from the four corners of the earth for a Mass at Westminster Cathedral on June 8, during a week-long conference organised by Alpha International.
The archbishops and bishops – about 30 in total – represented nations including India, Sri Lanka, France, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and the Caribbean. They were visiting London for the week-long Alpha International Conference held at Holy Trinity Brompton, the Anglican evangelical church, in Kensington.
The conference attracted more than 1,250 representatives. Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, chairman of the department for evangelisation and catechesis, attended for a day of seminars and prayer. The Rt Rev Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, was one of the senior Anglicans who were involved in the week’s activities.
In his homily, Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said: “We who seek to be evangelists must first be disciples, and we must have in our heart every morning, the other words of Isaiah: ‘That I awaken every day with a disciple’s ear’.”
Following the Mass, some 120 guests enjoyed refreshments in the Throne Room at Archbishop’s House. The archbishop congratulated the conference organisers, saluted the work of Alpha and said: “This evening I have heard wonderful testimonies about the work of Alpha in prisons, in poor countries, in many many different circumstances. I pray that God will guide us all in this journey of deeper and deeper understanding and greater visible unity between our churches.”
One of the highlights was a message of support broadcast via video from Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Papal Household. Archbishop Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, Archbishop Rivas of St Lucia, Barbados and St Vincent, and Bishop Hector Cubillos of Zipquirá, Colombia were among the Catholic participants. The Alpha course began in an Anglican church, but is now used in the Catholic Church. For example, 600 Catholic parishes in France are thought to use Alpha.
Kitty Kay-Shuttleworth, head of Alpha in the Catholic Church, said: “It has been a wonderful week as Christians from many different denominations have come together with a shared love of Christ and vision for evangelisation.”
The reception was organised in partnership with the Bishops’ Conference.