R.E. Congress: Looking for the light
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (The Tidings) - More than 40,000 participants stepping over the threshold of this year’s Religious Education Congress in Anaheim Feb. 28-March 2 were encouraged in numerous workshops and multicultural liturgies to raise their sights and spirits toward envisioning a Christ-centered future of hope and possibilities.
GATHERING - The Celtic Mass celebrated March 1 was one of many culturally-themed prayer events at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. (Paula Doyle)
“Today we are called to wake up to the lantern within us, to the light that’s already there and to recognize that and to affirm that. If this weekend we only opened up our eyes to God’s dream for us,” continued Sister Prendergast. “If only we lift our gaze and see the brokenness that is already there — the need in the midst of all the plenty. God invites us to be wide-eyed, open and visionary.”
‘Loved into existence’
Father Robert Barron, in his March 1 keynote on “The Religious Educator as Evangelizer,” urged Congress participants to be “dynamite to change the world” by becoming good at telling the great five-act Christian story of the grace of creation, the fall, the formation of a people Israel, the coming of the Messiah and the age of the church.
“The entire universe has been loved into existence,” said Father Barron, who teaches at the University of the Lake-Mundelein Seminary. “Find the place right now in you where you are being loved into existence, spoken into existence.”
“Because of creation, we are all connected to one another,” he said. “What connects us is always more powerful than what divides us.”
The priest described the fall of humanity as an attitude of “taking” divine life rather than “receiving it” in gratitude. “As you receive it, you give it away,” he said. “You want the divine life in you? Give it away and then you get more.”
The formation of a people Israel began with God’s call to Abraham and Abraham’s decision to listen and to follow. “The call of God leads people on adventures,” said Father Barron. “God breaks into our hearts.” In contrast, he said, “Sin is fundamentally boring.”
God’s law as given to the Israelites, he continued, “is not an affront to freedom. The law is a foundation for freedom.”
With the coming of the Messiah, “the Christmas story is a warrior story,” asserted the priest. Using the “spiritual weapons of heaven, Jesus deals with enemies through the power of non-violent love and forgiveness. …We killed God, and God returned in forgiving love.”
During this age of the Church, “it is our day to tell the world this great story over and over,” Father Barron challenged religious educators. “The Catholic tradition is a very smart tradition, intellectually profound, rich. We will not tell our own story effectively if we turn away from that richness. We must stop dumbing down our tradition if we’re going to make this story compelling. When we tell this story with verve and with panache, that’s the way that we will light a fire on the earth.”
Throughout the weekend, Congress participants spoke about the challenges facing the Church broadly or in their individual parishes. They sought out new ideas, wisdom and fellowship from Congress participants and workshop speakers so as to meet these challenges from a faith-filled perspective.
First-time Congress participant Paul Peloquin of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said he was experiencing a “reversion” or a re-conversion to the Catholic faith after some 32 years of estrangement. As a child, he had been molested by a priest. He said a subsequent lawsuit and settlement money brought “no satisfaction.”
Describing himself as a prodigal son, Peloquin said, “God knocked me on the ground and said, ‘I have a plan for you.’ I said, ‘O.K., Lord. I hear you. I’ll do anything.’“ The past four years of active church participation have been a profound coming home experience, said Peloquin, adding, “I’m on an adventure now.” He said he’s come to realize, “I can only heal by learning God’s forgiveness. Once you come to the Lord he teaches you forgiveness.”
Stephanie Malcolm, 20, a UC Santa Barbara student from St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Oceanside where she taught religious education classes to second graders while in high school, has been coming to Congress for four years. Currently an active parishioner at St. Mark University Parish in Goleta, Malcolm said she appreciates the opportunity to be with “a bunch” of Catholics who share the same faith, morals and values.
“I think one of the most pressing challenges is trying to get youth involved at church,” said Malcolm. “So much in our society is telling us to do things that are not moral and not correct for our faith and there is so much outside ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Diocese News
- Newman Centers are anchor of faith at public colleges
- A Pinprick to Revive Devotion
- Family celebration: Utah women travel to India to meet with sponsored children
- Deportation of Wis. eighth-grader reveals immigration policy's painful side to class
- Mandatory drug testing to be implemented in Oklahoma City Catholic high schools
- Catechesis of the Good Shepherd ‘hands-on’ religious education gets a look in Texas
- Food versus fuel: Is biofuel production to blame for our present food shortage?
- Spirituality key to the dying patient’s ‘quality of life,’ says Catholic doctor
- Bioethics battle is between contrary visions of the human person, says Rome professor
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?