Greetings from the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, which, like the Los Angeles Angels, is actually in Anaheim, CA. Commonweal has a booth (#711) in the vast and enjoyably chaotic exhibit hall, so if you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in to say hi to your friends on the staff, happily recovering from a miserable New York winter here in the 90-degree California heat.
As other Commonweal people have written before, we love coming to the Congress. Over the course of four days, it attracts the biggest single U.S. gathering of Catholics involved in ministry. The more than 200 workshops include the usual book-plugging and music-shilling, but there are sessions ranging from the practical and pastoral (e.g. how to welcome autistic children into parish life) to scripture, faith and the movies, and parish leadership. What matters most, though, is not the scale or the content, but the mood. Frankly, people seem happy to be here, and by extension, upbeat about being Catholic. And if you want a first-hand experience of the American church’s multi-ethnic future, here in Orange County is where to come to get a very encouraging picture of it: Thousands of Catholic high-school and college students, hard-working teachers and parish catechists, pastors and deacons, religious sisters and brothers of every description and nationality. Tomorrow night there will be masses in five different languages, including brand-new Cardinal Soane Mafi from Tonga celebrating mass in, yes, Tongan.
So anyway, if you’re a Commonweal reader and you’re in the neighborhood, make sure to come by and say hello.