Immigration, the death penalty and the environment

More than 40,000 expected at 2017 Religious Education Congress, which begins today in Anaheim

Thousands gathered at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena for an opening event at Religious Education Congress in 2016. This year, organizers expect more than 40,000 participants from 20 countries at the event, the largest gathering of Catholics in the United States. (Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles)

More than 40,000 people of faith from around the world will attend the 2017 Religious Education Congress (RECongress) – the nation’s largest annual gathering of Catholics – this weekend (February 23-26) at the Anaheim Convention Center (800 Katella Ave, Anaheim, 92802).

“I’m excited for this year’s Congress. It’s always a great time for fellowship and prayer,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez, who will lead the opening of the four-day event on Friday, Feb. 24 at the Arena. “And this year’s Congress theme of trust in God is just the message we need to hear in these times of uncertainty and fear in our country. I look forward to Youth Day especially — the chance to pray and share with thousands of young people from across the Archdiocese.”

“Embrace Trust” (¡Confía!) is the theme of the event, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Office of Religious Education, which is open to all who wish to learn more about the Catholic faith or seek personal growth. RECongress kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 8 a.m. with Youth Day, attended by more than 15,000 adolescents from throughout California and other states, and concludes Sunday, February 26, with a 3:30 p.m. Mass presided by Archbishop Gomez in the Arena.

Highlights of events on Thursday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 26, include:

  • More than 15,000 adolescents from throughout California and other states will attend Youth Day on Thursday, starting at 8 a.m. It is a day just for youth from many different backgrounds to participate in a rally, liturgy and workshops designed specifically for them.
  • On Friday, after the opening ceremony and welcome, Archbishop Gomez will conduct 45-minute live online chat session (10:15 a.m.-11a.m.) with students from St. Francis of Assisi School in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.
  • A death penalty and immigration rally organized by Catholics Against Death Penalty-Southern California, led by Father Chris Ponnet, leader of Pax Christi and St. Camillus Center in Los Angeles, and the Archdiocesan Office of Restorative Justice, will be held on Saturday starting at 11:45 a.m. on the East sidewalk of the Anaheim Convention Center. This year, the rally – which has been held for two decades to advocate for the death penalty – will highlight the need for immigration reform, which could bring relief to hundreds of families of the incarcerated.
  • Auxiliary Bishop David D. O’Connell for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region of the Archdiocese will lead a Spanish-language workshop on Saturday from 1-2:30 p.m. on how parish communities can activate to support immigrant brothers and sisters. The workshop will include several testimonials from immigrants of different backgrounds.
  • Two Masses focusing on immigrants, exiles and refugees will be celebrated simultaneously in English and Spanish on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. Bishop Robert McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego will serve as celebrant and Archbishop Gomez will concelebrate the English-language Mass held in the Arena. The Spanish-language Mass, held at Convention Hall B, will be presided by Bishop Gerald Barnes, of the Diocese of San Bernardino. Various groups will process up during the beginning of the parallel Masses, including DACA students, Syrian refugees, Haitian refugees and human trafficking victims. After communion, a reflective power point presentation with images of refugees will be shown.
  • On Sunday, the RECongress will culminate with a large-scale Mass in the Arena at 3:30 p.m. presided by Archbishop Gomez.
  • In response to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si (On Care for Our Common Home), the Sacred Space in the Convention Center’s third floor (Room 304) will offer an ongoing and interactive prayer experience for the protection of the environment generated through a multimedia art exhibition. The Sacred Space includes a prayer Labyrinth, a Chapel, and live musical performances.

During the four days, nearly 200 speakers will conduct more than 300 workshops in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. The event will feature more than 250 exhibitors in Hall A, including the offices and ministries of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the Dioceses of Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego.

More than 40,000 participants hailing from all parts of the U.S. and nearly 20 countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia, include Catholic school teachers, Catholic school principals, campus ministers, chaplains, directors of religious education, parish administrators, members of youth and young adult ministries, among others.

Full story at Archdiocese of Los Angeles website.


  1. helen wheels says:

    O.K. so I’m getting old.
    “Immigration, the Death Penalty & the Environment”
    I remember when the Big 3 Threats were:
    “the World, the Flesh & the Devil”

  2. All the liberal talking points ……

  3. God Bless Kenneth Fisher who used to protest this awful event. These 40,000 should just study the Catechism and make a good confession. Archbishop Gomez allows dissenters of all stripes to pitch their twisted version of Catholicity at this “conference”, and he will be held to account for it by the grace of God. Meanwhile, he leads his flock into danger.

  4. Wonderful!

  5. the main instigator of the ‘labyrinth movement’ in christianity was lauren arless who felt that having to go to God through Jesus was reeked of the stifling feel of ‘patriarchy’ and blocked her sense of freedom in prayer. the catholic world has so many rich traditions that should be cultivated and passed on by our religious educators.

    • sadly, another online account of rec indicated that the ‘sacred space’ with its labyrinth (very big in wicca) is directed especially as part of the youth experience.

  6. “The Sacred Space includes a prayer Labyrinth” Oh, yes, now that’s really Catholic!

    • Noel, if you research the history of the Labyrinth, you will find that it is an age old Catholic aid to help people concentrate deeper as they contemplate their relationship with Christ, ask for help for others, etc. It really is Catholic! By the way, don’t miss the opening session on You Tube. The music, the preaching, etc. is wonderful. By the way, the Papal Nuncio is saying the Friday evening liturgy (in Spanish), a leader of the Vatican department for culture will speak and the Secretary for the Vatican Communications department is also in town. Its not often that you see 40,000 Catholics attend a conference.

      • If the Labyrinth is used for strictly Christian purposes as was done at Chartres Cathedral, it is all right. Walking it while saying a Rosary or Jesus Prayer would be appropriate, too. The problem is sometimes it is misused by New Age groups, who infiltrate some Catholic parishes or catalogues.

        I bought from a Catholic catalogue in the past, which had nice things holiday items. It started to offer a small metal labyrinth with a booklet by Lauren Artress, or Atress, (whom dreweslow’s post mentions above), I was considering buying one, but first I looked the author up on line and found out she was into the goddess movement, and her book pushed that. I did not buy it, and they no longer carry it.

  7. So, we think that 40,000 young people gathered to increase their faith through liturgy and study of the faith is a bad thing! All they need to do is memorize the Catechism? Go on You Tube and listen to the keynote address to the youth session, the wonderful music, the enthusiasm of the kids for their faith. So, in order to combat this terrible event, next year, lets have a counter-conference. We will invite all the youth of the State to gather in an auditorium, that holds at least 50,000 people for a weekend of reading and memorizing the Catechism. No fun, just gosh darn hard mental work. Nothing about living our faith, just memorizing from 8 am to late into the evening. How many should we expect will show up?

  8. Bob Bugiada says:

    We need Jesse Watters to walk around there with a microphone and ask, “Can you name the Four Last Things?” I doubt if many attendees will answer correctly.

  9. Here we go ahead. I remember when Cardinal Mahony was getting ready to retire and people were hoping that his replacement would do away with this leftist, feminist, liberal, affront to traditional Catholic doctrine and moral teaching charade. However, our hopes were soon dashed when Archbishop Gomez has continued to support and promote this unholy alliance of everything wrong with Catholic education today. My advice is either to take up where Kenneth Fisher left off and picket the event, or just to stay at home and pray for the presenters that they might experience a change of heart. Or, taking a page from Bishop McElroy, why not attend and ask questions designed to disrupt!

    • Well, Fiasco, tell us what the conference is doing to make it leftist, feminist, liberal and an affront to traditional Catholic doctrine. Your broad generalities are so broad that they don’t make sense. When we say something is leftist, we need to give facts. When we say it is feminist, we need to give facts. Have you watched any of the conference so that you know whereof you speak? Give examples! Please!

      • Bob One, Here is an example of the reason why your sincerity is not to be trusted. Countless years of articles and evidence, prove that there is a great apostasy taking place. You will not admit this because you are a part of it. You, on many occasions, mocked and ridiculed Cardinal Burke. You even made fun of the vestments that are worn at the TLM. This is what Our Lady of Akita, Japan, spoke about when she said that those who showed a devotion to her would be mocked by their confreres and that churches and altars would be sacked.


        • continued,

          Bob One, when YOU ask for facts, it’s tantamount to supplying information to those who are only interested in seeing how much further they need to go in their agenda to undermine what is Traditional, Holy and True. So Bob One, you need a new moniker because you’ve already shown your true colors by your antagonistic posts about a faithful cardinal. And those colors are certainly not Blessed Mother blue. St. Alphonsus Liguori said that those who once knew the true faith but abandoned it in order to teach some false new teaching that would hide some sin that they were attached to, then their punishment was to remain locked in the blindness until death. Very sobering warning, Bob One!


          • continued,

            “For those with faith, no evidence is necessary; for those without it, no evidence will suffice.”― Thomas Aquinas.”

      • Bob One, how many of those young people attending this leftist love fest know about basic Catholic doctrine, you know the salvation of souls stuff. I am pretty much convinced you think everyone is going to Heaven, well guess what most of humanity is damned.

        • Bohemond, this is what Archbishop Sample says: “While it is a good and even essential thing that a disciple of Jesus care for the poor and seek justice for the oppressed in this world, there is so much more to the message of redemption in Jesus Christ. We must follow the Ten Commandments, avoid sin, and repent and seek forgiveness when we fail. Our eternal salvation depends on all these things, as Jesus himself taught. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
          I agree.

          • Steve Phoenix says:

            Bob One, I completely agree with Catherine above who observes that “when you ask for facts,.. its only to see how much farther [you] have to go to undermine” the premise.

            I challenged you with multiple facts before regarding the USCCB’s beloved “Affordable Care Act”, that in fact does not provide either care nor health-insurance, that it (as predicted by analysts in 2012) would lead reduction in American life expectancy (because it shifts power from individual choice to government control), and you denied objective fact . I pointed out that MD’s cant afford to take new Medi-Cal nor Medicare patients because reimbursements are now in the 20%-30% (or less) range of actual fees.

            Silence, Bob One: Ann Malley’s “crickets”.

          • The Archbishop is right, but you did not answer my question, does this liberal love fest increase the holiness of young people that you they seem so concerned with.. I would say NOPE….immigration policy, recycling, global warming etc none of this causes people to go to Hell, but that’s all you liberal Catholics are concerned with.

  10. Friday’s report:
    Bishop Barron’s workshop was excellent and inspiring. I highly recommend that everyone view it.
    Fr. Massingale’s workshop was irresponsibly incomplete and misleading about conscience formation.
    Fr. Rolheiser’s workshop was mediocre; not worth watching.
    The opening event was a horrid display of tasteless music and ethnic costumes, except for the beautiful sung Litany of Mary near the end.

  11. At least not a bad as the Argentine Pope starting a new Synod to end Preist celibacy and have Nuns ordinated. The Jesuit General announced this intention to finish this corollary of the odious Vatican II Council yesterday. Commie priests want to leave no Church behind, just pure destruction of what Christendom built.

  12. Michael Voris from Church Militant is attending the Religious Education Congress and has already written three articles about the speakers he has heard. Visit his website to read them.

    I saw Voris challenge Jim Wallis during the question and answer period on Saturday.

  13. It seems that the posters here have finally stopped making excuses as to why Abp. Gomez has not made changes to this event. The writers at Church Militant covering the REC could learn something.

  14. It seems that every workshop, Mass and prayer service is about welcoming the “undocumented immigrant”.

    Interesting that the RECongress requires all attendees to wear their name tags for all events and that nobody is admitted to a workshop without a ticket for that workshop. So it seems that proper documentation and registration is extremely important for the RECongress organizers.

    If you attempted to enter a workshop without a ticket and claimed that you were an undocumented RECongress attendee, I wonder how far you would get. I wonder whether “welcoming the stranger” would still apply?

    I think we all know the answer to that.

  15. Steve Phoenix says:

    Apart from P Francis’ message (which did mention Jesus several times: I guess his handlers have responded to criticism on this matter), this conference almost uniformly studiously avoided Jesus Christ as the ultimate message of true peace, harmony and salvation.

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