The Wonders of Cyberspace – Religious Education Congress On-Line
Religious education/faith formation is a critical part of the mission of the Church. Another term for it is evangelization. As faithful followers of Jesus, we are all called to share our faith and experience of God’s love with those around us. We begin with our families and reach out from there to our friends, fellow believers and society in general.
Beginning in 1962, the Diocese of Los Angeles has had regular formal gatherings to provide on-going education and support for catechists and others involved in ministry within the parish communities. By 1970, the location of the gathering, now called the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) Congress, was moved to the Anaheim Convention Center. “Congress” has taken place there annually since that time. The first youth rally ocurred in 1971. “Youth Day” today draws approximately 20,000 teens from across the United States for a day of prayer, workshops, music and fellowship.
The name of the gathering changed in 1973 to its current “Religious Education Congress.” Most people just call it “Congress.” Congress is the largest gathering of Catholics in the United States, drawing participants from all over the country and visitors from around the world. It’s a three day extravaganza, with liturgies, workshops, musical programs, Reconciliation opportunities, prayer and meditation spaces and exhibitor booths where nationally recognized vendors present their resources for use in teaching, liturgy and personal growth. Entering the Exibition Hall is like going to the County Fair, but all exhibits are focused on resources for liturgy, faith development and personal spiritual growth. Workshop presentors, authors, musicians and artists are there as well, ready and waiting to meet all who come by their booths. I feel like the proverbial “kid in a candy store” when I’m there.
This year’s theme is “Incredible Abundance.” Liturgies and workshops are offered in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Booths in the hallways will showcase the many ethnic groups and languages of Catholics in the archdiocese. A variety of styles and themes of liturgy will occur throughout the course of Congress. The concluding Mass will be multi-lingual, including English, Spanish and Vietnamese, with a interpreter signing for the hearing impaired. Cardinal Mahoney has preached in English, Spanish and English Sign Language in the past and I expect he’ll do so again this year.
Speaking of Cardinal Mahoney, he’s a great fan of the internet and will be on-line himself, answering questions in a chat room on Friday from 11:15 – 12:00 pm. You can submit a question in advance at: http://www.recongress.org/question.htm or check in personally through the Tech Center link on the Congress home page: www.recongress.org.
I’ve only been able to attend Congress twice, but for many years I’ve enjoyed listening to tapes and CDs of the presentations that my parish has purchased for our parish library. This year, I’m again unable to attend personally, but I’ll be able to listen in on the “doings” via my computer. Selected events from Congress will be streamed live at www.RECongress.org/LIVE beginning Friday morning at 8:00 am PDT.
I’ll be there! Hope you will too!