Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

The four-day 2017 Religious Education Congress — billed by organizers as the nation’s largest annual gathering of Catholics — will begin Thursday at the Anaheim Convention Center.

More than 40,000 people from throughout the U.S. and nearly 20 nations in Latin America, Europe and Asia — including Catholic school teachers and principals, campus ministers, chaplains, directors of religious education, parish administrators, members of youth and young adult ministries — are expected to attend RECongress, according to organizers.

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.

The theme of the event sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Office of Religious Education  is “Embrace Trust.”

“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,” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said.

RECongress will begin Thursday with Youth Day, with more than 15,000 adolescents from throughout California and other states participating in a rally and workshops designed specifically for them. Gomez will conduct a live online chat session from 10:15-11 a.m. Friday with students from St. Francis of Assisi School in Silver Lake.

A rally organized by Catholics Against Death Penalty-Southern California will be held at 11:45 a.m. Saturday. The rally — which has been held for two decades to advocate for abolition of 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 of the archdiocese’s San Gabriel Pastoral Region will lead a Spanish-language workshop from 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday on how parish communities can support immigrants. 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 at 5:15 p.m. Saturday. Refugees from Syria and Haiti and human trafficking victims will participate in the Masses.

RECongress will culminate at 3:30 p.m. Sunday with a large-scale Mass presided by Gomez.

In response to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si (On Care for Our Common Home), the so-called sacred space on the Convention Center’s third floor will offer an ongoing and interactive prayer experience for the protection of the environment generated through a multimedia art exhibition.

RECongress is open to all who wish to learn more about the Catholic faith or seek personal growth.

More information is available at RECongress.org. All Masses celebrated during the four days as well as keynote speeches and workshops in the arena will be live streamed via recongress.org/live.

—City News Service

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