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First Catholic Appointed to Alpha USA Board of Directors

Detroit bishop will help lead parishes in the New Evangelization as Pope Benedict's Year of Faith begins.

Contact: Steve Mitchell, 248-789-5764, stevemitchell@alphausa.org

BANNOCKBURN, Ill., Sept. 25, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Alpha USA, one of the world's leading evangelistic organizations, has appointed a Catholic bishop to Alpha's board of directors.

Bishop Michael Byrnes, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Detroit, is the first Catholic ever to be appointed to the board of Alpha. More than 18 million people in 169 countries have attended an Alpha course, which the U.S. Conference of Bishops recently recognized as "one of the best methods of evangelization and resources for parish outreach."

Bishop Byrnes' historic appointment to Alpha's board comes on the eve the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will draw Catholic leaders from all over the world to Rome October 7-28 to discuss the theme of "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith." The gathering coincides with the launch of The Year of Faith, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI.

His appointment also comes at a particularly significant moment for the Catholic Church, at the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the inauguration of The Year of Faith.

"The appointment of a Catholic bishop to the Alpha USA board is of major importance," says the Rev. Steve Mitchell, a Catholic deacon and national director of Alpha for Catholics. "Bishop Byrnes' appointment offers further proof of the ability of Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals to work together to further the Good News of Jesus Christ."

Bishop Byrnes believes that Alpha will play a key role in the New Evangelization: "Not only is Alpha an effective means to introduce people to an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, it is an opportunity to find out who are the evangelists in your parish," he explains.

Alpha is a practical tool that parishes can use to inspire Catholic renewal, answer the call to the New Evangelization and the call of Christ and His Church to "go and make disciples of all nations." The course is held over 10-weeks and is presented in a relaxed, friendly setting featuring good food and easy conversation about the Christian faith. It addresses crucial topics, such as the existence of God, the purpose of life, what happens after death and the teachings of Jesus.

Parishes that use the Alpha course in a holistic way are seeing significant growth in the areas of discipleship, leadership and giving.

In 2011, Alpha saw a 74 percent increase in parishes that run the course in the U.S. Approximately 33,000 guests have attended courses in U.S. Catholic parishes over the past four years.

For more information or to schedule interviews with Bishop Byrnes, contact Steve Mitchell: stevemitchell@alphausa.org or 248-789-5764. Learn more about Alpha in the Catholic context at www.alphaforcatholics.org.