TENS OF THOUSANDS EXPECTED TO ATTEND LARGEST GATHERING OF CATHOLICS IN THE UNITED STATES MARCH 20-24 IN ANAHEIM
The 2019 Religious Education Congress will feature the experiences of Sister Norma Pimentel and the community of Rio Grand, Texas, assisting Central Americans seeking asylum in the U.S; a conversation between Archbishop Gomez and the audience about the Synod of Youth held at the Vatican last fall; and art exhibit with images celebrating the life of Saint Oscar Romero, who’s one-year anniversary of sainthood we celebrate March 24th
Thousands of faithful from across the United States and other parts of the world will attend the 2019 Religious Education Congress (RECongress) – the nation’s largest annual gathering of Catholics – the weekend of March 20-24 at the Anaheim Convention Center, 800 Katella Ave, Anaheim, 92802. The weekend begins with Youth Day, March 20th – a day that focuses on high school age youth who come to renew, experience and celebrate their Catholic faith.
“This is a gathering for those who are looking to find a connection to the Living Water who is Jesus,” said Father Christopher Bazyouros, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Religious Education. “This is for the brothers and sisters who are searching to be inspired to grow in faith and put mercy and love into action. Join us for four days of prayer, growing in faith and living out the life of the Church.”
In its 63rd year, with the theme “Thirsting for Justice” (Sed de justicia, in Spanish; Khát Khao Công Lý in Vietnamese) the event will feature the following interactive discussions, Masses:
- Front Row with Archbishop José H. Gomez. Archbishop will host an interactive discussion moderated by Christina Lamas, executive director of the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministers, with Congress participants about the recent Synod on Young Adults, Faith and Vocational Discernment on Saturday, March 23 at 10:30 a.m. at the Performance Stage in Hall A, and online via Live Streaming and Facebook Live.
- Spanish-language keynote speaker Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities in Rio Grand Valley, Texas, will reflect on the Gospel passage where Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well, and how both the woman and Jesus were “changed” through this experience. She will share how the local community at Rio Grand is quenching this thirst by welcoming immigrant families and inviting others to do the same. As the Executive Director for Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley for the past 14 years, she was instrumental in responding to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States and setting up the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas. She is a licensed professional counselor and member of the Missionaries of Jesus. Sister Pimentel has served the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas for 20 years and has spoken at many conferences about her work along the Rio Grande border.
- English-language keynote, Sister Kathleen Bryant, a Religious Sister of Charity, will speak to Jesus invitation to us to live deeply in his life and become more compassionate loving people. She has been deeply involved in work to end human trafficking, as well as formation in various areas of the Church.
- Sacred Space – A meditative walk with stories of justice illustrated in art pieces by Valerie MacRae. Based on static dance moves, the art pieces at the Sacred Space in the Convention Center’s North Building Lower Level offer participants an opportunity to reflect on our own thirst for justice. Attendees will have an opportunity to write their own experiences on a journal book. The Sacred Space includes a prayer Labyrinth, a Chapel, and live musical performances.
- Liturgies – 17 liturgies will offer a particular intention in the context of a unique culture and needs within the Church and the world, including a Mass dedicated to those held in captivity, a Mass for the sanctification of human labor celebrated in English by Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, a Mass that will highlight the African American culture perspective, and a Mass for persecuted Christians celebrated in Vietnamese by Auxiliary Bishop Louis Nguyen Anh, of the Diocese of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1z2gk6u9rbRh8Beag8MsAOff28HTkEvUHkxw9xkh2wDE
During the four days, more than 200 speakers will conduct more than 300 workshops in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. The event will feature over 500 booths in Hall A, representing more than 200 exhibitors, including the offices and ministries of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the Dioceses of Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego.
Congress participants hail from all parts of the United States and nearly 22 countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia, include lay people desiring to enrich their faith life, directors of religious education, members of youth and young adult ministries, Catholic school teachers, Catholic school principals, campus ministers, chaplains, parish administrators, among others.
For more information, visit http://www.recongress.org/2019/. All Masses celebrated during the four days, as well as keynote presentations and workshops in the Arena will be live streamed via RECongress.org/LIVE!
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