Some RECongress First Impressions ...

Religious Education Congress
February 28, 2008 (Youth Day)
February 29 - March 2, 2008 (Congress days)

We asked those who had attended the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress for the first time, what their impressions of Congress were. In addition, you can find some of these comments included in our Congress 2008 Registration Guidebook.

Subject: RE Congress 2007
Date: August 28, 2007
From: Espimari

My boyfriend and I went to Congress not knowing what to expect. My brother Joel and his friend Derek invited us before to Congress 2006 but we decided not to go at the last minute. This year I didn't feel like going either because I thought it was going to be another "boring convention," but we ended up going. The sessions and the speakers were great! The first class was a real eye-opener! My boyfriend and I really learned a lot! We were so excited that we even bought books and a lot of CDs so we could listen to the talks again! After Congress we returned home feeling great and told our parents and all of our friends about it. We decided to make it a new tradition to attend every year from now on! Great job everyone! See you at Congress 2008!

Have a Blessed Day!
Marisol Espinoza

Date: July 9, 2007

The 2007 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress was a first for me and my friend, Marylyn. We flew in a day early so we could go to Disneyland, which is a rare treat for someone from Connecticut. The weather was perfect the whole time we were there. The Congress itself was amazing. There were so many terrific workshops listed it was hard to choose which we wanted to do. I think whether you were interested in teaching children, as I am, or just hoping for a bit of personal growth, like she was, you could find it at the congress..

The highlight of our time there had to be Saturday night's concert in the Arena. What an incredible transformation in that hall when they turned out the lights and people started dancing and waving glowsticks! Our only wish was that Matt Maher had sung more! My goal in attending had been to determine whether the Congress might be a good place to have a booth for my liturgical fiber arts business, and I can definitely say I felt a sense of kinship and belonging in this place, which indicates it is the right kind of place.

Unexpectedly, I developed a great appreciation for Cardinal Roger Mahony. I already knew he led the team that built a cathedral expressive of our time and for the whole world. He also obviously encouraged the development of this wonderfully diverse Congress, where I sang and prayed with young and old people from across the country. He has harkened to the angel's, "Fear not!". I am grateful we have him as a shepherd in our church.
Good luck continuing to build the Congress!
Pam Hardiman

Date: July 9, 2007

Dear Congress,

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the conference after I registered. I was laid off from my job and found some temporary work from which I could not take time off. I hope to attend next year, we shall see what the Dear Lord has in store for me by then..

Deb Wesley

From: Juniel Butler
Date: July 09, 2007

Thank you for asking.

Attending RE Congress was a very uplifting experience that afforded me the opportunity to see our church in a much broader scope. So many wonderful seminars/speakers and exhibits that one could really get into.

I specifically enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people. From Father J-Glenn Murray's seminar, I really got it that we are to be active participants in Mass on SUNDAY. Fr Bryan's keynote – At Table with Jesus -- and his Malcolm X & Catholic Social Teaching were eye openers. I was surprised at the topic, but very happy that it could be presented. Father Tony Ricard was indeed an inspiration. Yes, I still believe.

The Afro American Liturgy surely lit a fire in my heart. It's a joy to see "my" black Catholics praising the Lord with their whole soul and body.

I almost could not believe the order in which the Mass was held in the arena -- Holy Communion to 15,000 plus people? Wow! Our church is one of joy!
I left the convention truly re-energized and on fire to be a better Christian and to serve.

Yes, I plan to attend 2008 and invite my niece from Colorado. She is very active in her church there, but says she has never heard of RE Congress.

Juniel Butler

Date: July 09, 2007

I did not attend due to a family crisis. However, my friends have
shared wonderful audio discs with our Saturday morning Womens Ministry.
It has been very inspirational and I/we are making plans to attend next
year.. for sure. Thanks for inquiring.

God's blessings.

Date: July 10, 2007

Greetings of Peace! Last March 2007 was my first time to attend the Religious Education Congress since I am new here in the United States. I was amazed with the huge number of participants and I even told my co-sisters that my vocation became alive again with all the conferences that I had chosen to attend. Great speakers and well organized program. Our community will surely attend next year's Congress for they go yearly and I am looking forward for that big event. God bless you for your effort and dedication.

Sr. Delia Obenza, O.P.

Date: July 10, 2007
Many thanks for your email. Yes, I did attend RE Congress 2007 and it was my first time. I have to say if found it a most uplifting experience. I was in awe of the American Church at the way they can so openly express their true faith. Probably the highlight for me was the liturgies, in particular were Fr. Liam Lawton's liturgy held in The Hilton and the closing liturgy which took place in the Arena (I found these so prayerful that I attended both morning and afternoon!).

Sr. Edith Prendergast and Rev Bryan Massingale's key note addresses both left me challenged and wanting to explore theology and religious education in greater depth and take it to a new level for me personally. In respect of the workshops that I attended, two of them were David Hass and Marty Haugen. I have been using their music in my parish for years so was delighted to finally meet them in person!

Over the few days I found huge peace (even among the thousands of people in attendance!). I was filled with a real sense of prayerfulness and joy. I returned home invigorated, enthused, refreshed and a phrase (of Msgr Ray East) that stuck with me (and others who I traveled back to Ireland with), we were truly "blessed beyond belief" to have been present.

God willing, would love to attend RE Congress 2008.

Catherine Daly

Date: July 11, 20077

This is in response to your e-mail regarding my experiences at the 2007Congress. You may use my comments. I found the 2007 Congress to be very professional. The keynotes, workshops, and liturgies were of the highest quality. No matter what your ministry there was something for you. I left there energized and excited about my ministry. I plan to attend the 2008 Congress and bring another staff member with me.

Connie Davis
Pastoral Associate
St. Ann Church
Excelsior Springs, MO

Date: July 10, 20077

As I prepared for my first LA Congress, I was not sure what to expect. I was extremely excited to be attending one of the biggest Religious Education Conferences in the United States, yet unsure of what the "biggest" meant. I soon found out that over 40,000 colleagues were in attendance. I am still in awe of the speakers who enlightened and refreshed my ministry for another year. This was without a doubt the "cream of the crop" of Conferences and I am very pleased to have attended.

I applaud the organizers. What a wonderful job they have done.

I also commend the organizers of the closing Mass. It was simply "divine" and the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament was the smoothest experience I have ever been a part of in my life! Well done! I must admit to having one very disturbing experience: the fear of being trampled as I left a workshop at one of the local hotel conference rooms. I was not the only person fearful of this and the hotel security officers were quite apologetic. Unfortunately, apologies do not help ease fears. I would hope there will be attention to this overcrowding problem.

Also, it would have been nice to have more time to visit the many exhibitors. I felt as though I need to skip a workshop or keynote. Would there be any way to perhaps open the exhibits later in the day, at least one day? Keeping these two points in mind, I will enjoy attending the LA Congress in the future. It was so wonderful to attend such a fabulously organized conference.

Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion. Feel free to use any part of my response on your web site.
May God bless you all!

Marcy Fessler

Date: July 11, 2007

The convention was full of information and ideas. I had two primary interests: Speakers who essays and books I had read such as Frs. Ronald Rolheiser and Richard Rohr, and help, guidance for the Bible study group I have lead for several years. I was certainly not disappointed in what I heard. I am not certain about the 2008 Congress.

Mary Starrs

Date: July 11, 20077

This was my first experience attending the Congress and I will do it again. It was very rewarding and educational, but more than anything – it was awesome, exhilarating and a spiritual awakening. I needed that boost for my music ministry. I recommend the Congress to all lay ministers – it was a vitamin shot for the soul.


Date: July 10, 2007

This first year was definitely more than I could ever imagine! I knew the presenters/speakers were top notch. I have read much of their works. Nothing could compare to standing beside and talking to the authors that ignite the fire of the Spirit of Holiness in my life and my ministry. I asked if anyone from our staff at Seven Dolors Church in Manhattan, Kansas, would want to come with me to California to the largest gathering of this type. I brought with me Fr. George, our Associate Pastor from India. We were in the main Area for the opening of the conference when I explained to him that there were more people in this space right now than lived in Manhattan. To watch his face as it dawned on him was priceless! His next unforgettable experience was that of the African American celebration of the Eucharist. As the deacon processed with the Gospel book, Fr. George's eyes opened wide and his mouth dropped open. NEVER had he seen The Word celebrated with such spirit! It, too, was a priceless experience to see his face. We also participated in the Indonesian Eucharist with the same response from him. Because of the Congress, both of our lives were touched and we have been "Standing in the Light" ever since. I know I'll be back!

Rosie Rundell

Date: July 10, 20077

I did not end up going but I did volunteer for the first time in the booth of the Sisters of Notre Dame. I loved it, I regret not going. I will definitely go in 2008, could you send me a booklet. I will not let another year pass by, it was great. I would also like to stay at a hotel so I don't drive back to Compton.

Alma Calvillo

Date: July 10, 2007

It was a great experience to sum it up!

Date: July 14, 2007

Hello, My name is Helen Guzman. RE 2007 was awesome. I've attended many years of Ministry Day in Stockton Diocese, which is almost the same format. It's just that that the L.A. Congress is so evolved! I came home and told my deacon that we all have to go to L. A. next year as a parish! My favorite part was the musical masses. The themes were fantastic. I attended the Hawaiian, African-American, and the closing masses. I was so filled with Holy Spirit, that I cried like crazy during the closing mass. I also like that we ( as Eucharistic Ministers) from any parish were allowed to sign up as EMs for the masses. It was an honor to God! The music was so inspiring that I bought their CDs. I wear the T-shirt all the time, so it stays fresh in my mind throughout the year. I will definitely be back next year.
Agape love,
Helen Guzman
4th Grade CCD teacher
Eucharistic Minister
Lector @
Mission of the Good Shepherd, French Camp, CA Stockton Diocese

Date: July 16, 2007

What a wonderful experience! I attended my first RECongress in 2007
and loved it. I am in my mid-80s, but am still active enough in
parish affairs that our pastor invited me to attend along with others
involved in parish ministries. At first I was overwhelmed--the number
of people there, the exhibitors, the choices we had. I soon felt very
comfortable, however, because of the organization of the events, the
people who were always there to answer questions and head me in the
right direction, even the blue tape on the floor of the main exhibit
gallery that helped to keep me oriented. I loved following that blue

There was no problem seeing and hearing during the events in the main
Arena because of the strategically placed large screens, and I loved
being able to go to the Arena during the lunch break and enjoy the
entertainment. There wasn't enough time to do all I wanted to do – I
attended seven workshops as well as the evening prayer and liturgies
on Friday and Saturday; bought tapes of several events that I have
been able to share with friends. My main regret is that I didn't
start coming to Congress a long time ago.

Note: you are welcome to share my story, but I don't feel I was able
to express the awe, enthusiasm, and gratefulness I felt while I was
there and still retain. I would like to attend again but a family
situation may keep me from doing so. If I can come, I will.

Thank you for letting me share.

Eleanor Campbell

Date: July 17, 2007

Hi! I loved your RECongress! I stayed within walking distance...the weather was perfect...(and that's just for starters!) I was impressed with the numbers of people in attendance at the workshops...the speakers kept me writing note after note on their 'special topic' (90% of the time!) (I did actually walk out of one, but not because the speaker wasn't "good"... I just realized after 5 minutes that this just wasn't for me and went and took a much needed rest in the hallway or browsed thru the exhibits... and speaking of those exhibits... I met up with "Katrina Rae" after 10 years and ended up arranging for her "Mission" to come to our Parish in September! Thank you RE Congress!...

...I expected to attend a very conservative, ordinary Mass because I am a very conservative, ordinary DRE!!! (smile)...instead I found myself at the Native-American Mass...absolutely beautiful / reverent / !!! ...and a Jazz Mass...beautiful!!

I really liked your keynote speakers...the line that I just came across a couple of days ago as I was looking thru some notes... "Imagine if we believed what we are teaching??!!!" that sums it up, folks!, follow up that speaker with Father John Corapi and by won't be able to get the crowds to go home! (could you book him, please, please???!!!)

I know this is far too long, but thanks for asking how I liked REC! and yes, by the Grace of God, I and my Parish Catechists and anyone else I can get to come will return next year (it took me 15 years and one very determined new Pastor to get there...we need to keep going...we need to keep growing!) Thank you and God Bless all your efforts!

Blessings...Shirley Roberts, first-timer!

PS on how to avoid the food lines: 1) pack PBJ sandwiches; 2) go to the upstairs vendors 20-30 minutes into lunch, there are no lines...and if you don't mind sitting on the floor, there is lots of space!! smile)

Date: July 19, 2007

This past year we heard about the Congress for the first time from a new parishioner who used to live in California and has attended many times. We were extremely interested and went online to research it. I could not imagine that anything that big and wonderful had escaped us. We are both very active in the Catholic Church both in the parish and diocese and have traveled to retreats etc in different parts of the country.

Our experience was wonderful. We went with three other people, two of whom had also never been before that we encouraged to come with us. We needed the paper catalog as the amount of workshops was a bit overwhelming at first to do it online ... can't put sticky notes and highlighter on the computer. Picking workshops was probably the hardest part of the Congress. There were just too many that we wanted to attend, and too many prominent speakers we wanted to hear. Out of the 16 workshops between us, we were only disappointed in three ... an amazing record. The liturgies were wonderful with the exception of the Indian liturgy which was too much of everything. Each individual part was done too long, especially after a long day of workshops.
We came home with renewed energy for our ministries, our heads spinning with many new ideas ... especially with music. One rarely gets to be exposed to so much talent at once. Being able to order the workshops on CD was a huge help. We ordered both those we had attended and some we wish we could have attended.

We joked with our co-ministers at home that we had been filled with the spirit day and evening ... during the day it was the Holy Spirit and in the evening it was the California grape vine spirits.

We will be back. We have one piece of advice for newcomers: "Pick an area of interest and do most of your workshops in that area. Then pick one or two for your own soul needs".

Patti and Bill Pollitt

Date: July 24, 2007

We had a wonderful experience at the Congress. We are looking forward to the 08 Congress.

Ginger Tamborello
Houston, Texas

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