Thursday, March 19, 2015

What a Congress in L.A.!

Thursday greetings from my desk here at WLP in Franklin Park, IL.

A thousand apologies for not having posted this past week. We were at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim and the time was packed with work, speaking, and activities. I spent a few days in the California desert after Congress and did not have internet access.

What a Congress it was! The most multi-cultural and faith-filled Congress certainly in my memory. WLP was well represented. I gave a talk entitled "You Have Put on Christ: Cultivating a Baptismal Spirituality in the Parish." Much material was drawn from my new book of the same name. There were about 300 in attendance and it seemed to go very well. It is always a treat to share some of my photos and videos of Italian baptisteries with Catholics; a real eye-opener for sure.

Here is what our booth space in the exhibit hall looked like when we arrived.

And, seven hours later . . .

WLP sponsored this year's art exhibit, which featured the art in Brother Mickey McGrath's new book, Dear Young People. Here is a photo of Mickey and me in front of one of the panels.

We were privileged also to sponsor Fr. Ed Foley, who gave two presentations focused on Eucharistic theology, drawn from his new resource we just released here at WLP, Encountering the Mystery: An Overview of Eucharistic Theology. Here is Fr. Ed in action.

We also sponsored James Wahl, whose delightful recording for children, Standing on the Rock, was a hit with many who attended his workshop.

We were so happy and proud once again to sponsor two Australian composers, Michael Mangan and Andrew Chinn, as well as Michael's wife Anne Frawley-Mangan. They bring such life to the celebration of the liturgy through music and movement. There was a much larger group from Australia at Congress this year, as one of the dioceses sponsored a group of young aboriginal people, whose dance, story-telling, and presence really made Congress feel so much more international. It was such a treasure to be a part of it all.

And, of course, WLP artist John Angotti wrote the theme song for the Congress this year; the composition was a team effort that included Meredith Augustin (whom WLP sponsored at Congress as well), Gary Daigle, and James T. Brown. To hear it sung by thousands in the Anaheim Arena was spectacular. It (See Through the Eyes of Love) is available on iTunes. John presented a workshop with Brother Mickey McGrath, focused on Pope Francis.

WLP author Mary Birmingham also presented two workshops, one focused on the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, the other on the training of catechists.

We also sponsored Rafael Moreno, who gave two workshops in Spanish. He is such a delight. His recordings are certainly worth a listen.

And we also sponsored the group formerly named "The Jacob and Matthew Band." The band has been reconfigured and now is known as WAL (We Are Loved). I attended the "Young Adult Mass" on Saturday night, at which they were the music ministers. It was so prayerful and exactly what I needed to become refocused on what really matters after a long and hectic day.

Just writing this re-cap reminds me of how blessed we are to have so many fine composers, artists, and authors in the WLP family. I am still on a spiritual high after Congress.

This was Sr. Edith Prendergast's (Director of the Office of Religious Education for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles) final Congress as the leader; she retires from the directorship in June. Her opening address, as usual, was inspiring and hope-filled.

Many thanks to Sister Edith and her fine staff for the amazing effort they expend to bring together over forty thousand Catholics for this event. I've said it before and I'll say it again, every Catholic, ordained and lay, involved in ministry of any kind, should attend the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress at least once! It is an experience one never forgets. I already can't wait until next year!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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