I met the Rev Matthew Hysell for coffee the other day. Fr Hysell is a priest at Corpus Christi Catholic parish in Edmonton. We had not previously met except by email - first when he ran an Alpha in his parish last year and again as he was planning another one this coming fall.
We arranged to meet at a Tim Hortons in South Edmonton. Having never met him personally, I jokingly asked him how I would recognize him. "Try to look like a priest," I wrote.
"Don't worry," he replied, "I look like I'm right out of the 15th century."
Little did I know he was exactly right. I tried to find a picture of 15th century priests' vestments on line but nothing looked exactly right, and I didn't think to take one when we met, but there he was when I got there and indeed there was no trouble recognizing the one in the black flowing cassock and hat.
All, of which has nothing really to do with the story. We had a great conversation and Matthew was a real, pleasure to talk a with. He is hearing impaired himself, and his Alpha is going to be to include those with that, "disability" themselves. I put the word, "disability" in quotation marks because, and I hoped I am not being insensitive in saying this, in his case it hardly seemed that. We communicated a very well verbally.
Long story short, I was very encouraged by our meeting. Fr Matthew is determined to do everything right in his Alpha. He may have been looking for my help but it it turned out, as we spoke, all I could give him was my affirmation. He plans to have a full meal every session, a weekend away, and three signers on site every evening for the benefit of his guests. His initial contact with me was to see I felt
Alpha videos were available with the little circle in the bottom corner with a person signing for the hearing impaired. (Unfortunately they are not.) They do have subtitles, which may help, but he is bringing in signers as well. I thought it might even be an idea to rcord them as the presenters on the videos spoke, and I believe that is what he is going to do, but probably only for their own future use.
All in all it was a very encouraging conversation. I love it when I hear of Alphas being run successfully in various contexts and the passion of those who take so seriously Jesus' command to go and make disciples.