2014 RECongress Period 6

Religious Education Congress
Saturday, March 15, 2014

3:00 - 4:30 pm



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6-01  Imagining God in a Scientific Age  

Dr. Richard Gaillardetz (bio 1-07)

Too often Christianity is belittled as an intellectually bankrupt religion that, under the scrutiny of modern science, no longer can offer a credible account of God and God’s activity in the world. In this workshop, we will explore our own customary forms of imagining God and will consider how our great theological tradition can enrich our religious imaginations and offer a compelling account of God that can respond to the challenges of a scientific world.

6-02  Answer the Call: Ritual Creating Discipleship  

Our ritual experiences have the power that can open the eyes of our hearts to become the living light of Christ. Music, wed to ritual action, makes this happen in a profound way, especially when we are called into one voice by the sheer act of communal song. Sacramental celebrations can’t do this on their own, but must be followed by ongoing, weekly opportunities for conversion. Come and explore sung ritual experience that can “set the world afire.”

Tom Kendzia

Tom Kendzia has been a professional liturgical musician, speaker, performer and consultant since 1980. He has spoken at diocesan gatherings and international events, and presented many parish workshops/concerts throughout the United States, Canada, the West Indies, Europe and Asia. The author and consultant is currently Director of Music at Christ the King Church in Kingston, R.I. Kendzia’s published works include “Lead Us To The Water,” “Create In Me” and “Taste and See.”

6-03  “Spiritual But Not Religious” Adults and Young Adults Belong Here       (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

There’s a lot of eye-rolling and hand-wringing in church circles whenever the subject of “spiritual but not religious” adults and young adults comes up. But the good news is that these people are already interested in the spiritual life! And the spiritual traditions of the church are the perfect home for them; we just need to start the conversation! In this workshop, we’ll examine current trends in spirituality and their impact on outreach, evangelization and formation. We will also identify practical strategies for meeting these seekers (hint: they’re already in our midst), and ways to evangelize, especially with young adults.

Douglas Leal

Douglas Leal is Coordinator for Adult Faith Formation and Young Adult Ministry for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, and previously served as Director of Ministries at St. Sebastian Parish in Los Angeles. Leal is author of the skill-building book for lectors, “Stop Reading and Start Proclaiming!” and has presented at many regional and national gatherings, including the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership and the Center for Religion & Spirituality at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

6-04  Holding to Belief in an Unbelieving World

It is hard to underestimate the impact that the new atheists have had on many Christian believers and young Catholics too. What challenges are our detractors giving us? What are our responses? Through story, media and humor, we will explore how we can best witness to faith in a sometimes hostile world.

Rev. Richard Leonard, SJ

Jesuit priest Fr. Richard Leonard is Director of the Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting, based in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Visiting Professor at the Gregorian University in Rome and has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles. A popular speaker at the Religious Education Congress since 2003, Fr. Leonard offers workshops that look at the intersection between our faith and contemporary culture. His books include “Why Bother Praying” and “Where the Hell is God?”

6-05  Praying in Color       (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

Sybil MacBeth (bio 2-15)

Praying in Color is an active, meditative and playful prayer practice that uses pen, markers and doodles to create an entrance into stillness and listening. Participants will learn this versatile practice through an intercessory prayer exercise and an introduction to lectio divina. If you have a short attention span and a restless body OR would like to talk to God without words OR are just looking for a new way to let God in, come experience Praying in Color. Absolutely no artistic ability is necessary! Bring a black pen, colored pencils or markers, paper and a hard surface to draw on.

6-06  1, 2, 3 … God Loves Me! Singing and Cele­brating with children       (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

Music and movement are such natural ways for 5- to 8-year-old children to joyfully learn about and celebrate their faith. Bring your voice and re-discover your “inner child” as Michael Mangan introduces a collection of exciting new songs that will have children enthusiastically singing in religious education classes and liturgical cele­brations throughout the Church year. Themes include God, Scripture, Church, creation, praise, thanks, belonging, prayer and family.

Michael Mangan

Michael Mangan is a composer, teacher and music liturgist from Brisbane, Australia. His 200 songs, psalms and Mass settings are used in parishes and schools throughout Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Michael tours widely presenting school concerts, professional development workshops and speaking at conferences. He is a member of the National Executive of the Australian Pastoral Musicians Network and is Music Director at All Saints Catholic Parish in Brisbane, Australia.

6-07  The Paschal Mystery in Daily Life       (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

The Paschal Mystery of Christ’s death and Resurrection is meant to be the pattern of our spirituality and our daily living. Thus, as St. Paul instructs us, “you must consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Similarly, in the Memorial Acclamation of the Eucharist, we proclaim, “Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and Resurrection, you have set us free” (option C). This presentation will reflect on some of the ways the Eucharist can transform our daily lives and enable us to live more fully the Paschal Mystery we celebrate.

Dr. Timothy Matovina

Dr. Timothy Matovina is Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where he is also Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies. He has offered presentations and workshops on U.S. Catholicism and various theological topics for dioceses, pastoral institutes and ministry formation programs throughout the United States. Dr. Matovina is a frequent and popular speaker at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. His latest publications include “Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church.”

6-08  Three Jewish Spiritual Heroes: Moses, David, Jesus  

Moses, David and Jesus – three very different scriptural and historical figures – present similar and different models of Jewish spiritual heroism. In their own ways, they are courageous, humble and imbued with faith. Each is an example to all of us of how we can achieve our own spiritual heroism.

Rabbi Michael Mayersohn

Speaker and teacher, Michael Mayersohn is a Reform Rabbi who is committed to interfaith cooperation and learning. He teaches Bible, both Hebrew and New Testament, teaching Christians the Jewish background and context of the life and ministry of Jesus. Since 2003 Rabbi Mayersohn has spoken at over 20 churches in Southern California and Arizona. He has presented at several Religious Education Congresses and is author of the book “Are We Sinners?”

6-09  Are You Certifiable? Exploring National Lay Ecclesial Ministry Certification: The Opportunities and Challenges  

Why would a Lay Ecclesial Minister (LEM) seek national certification? How does it benefit the LEM, their local faith community, and the larger Church? These are two important questions that will be answered in this workshop, as well as what qualifications are required and how to apply. Dr. Charlotte McCorquodale will help those attending explore the benefits and challenges of national certification, as well as review the various elements of the national process. Additionally, those present will have the opportunity to evaluate their readiness as well as interest in national certification.

Charlotte McCorquodale, PhD

Originally from Lake Charles, La., Dr. Charlotte McCorquodale is currently President of Ministry Training Source, based in Louisiana. Her professional career in Catholic youth ministry and lay ecclesial ministry spans three decades serving in parish, school, diocesan and university ministry settings. McCorquodale serves as an international educator, researcher and consultant for the fields of lay ecclesial ministry, certification standards and processes, youth ministry and e-learning.

6-10  Inspiring Youth to Mission and Solidarity  

In his 2013 World Youth Day homily, Pope Francis reminded the young Church that “Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission. … Go, do not be afraid, and serve.” Indeed, youth all over the world embrace this call as evidenced in their creative witness to love, service, peace and solidarity. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) invites you to a panel presentation and discussion designed to inspire. Discover how young people all over the world are setting the world afire through their transforming service. Explore models and resources for inviting young people to a faith life rooted in the Gospel, charged with a vision of solidarity and mission, and leading to deeper engagement with the world.

Ted Miles

Ted Miles, a native of Baltimore, has worked for CRS since 2005 as the Relationship Manager for Religious Education and Coordinator of CRS’ Youth Outreach in the United States. Prior to joining CRS, Miles served in parish youth ministry and Catholic high school education for over 25 years, including development of an immersion experience for youth of the Baltimore Archdiocese. In 2009, he received the award for leadership in youth ministry from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.

Joyce Francois

Joyce Francois has worked for years in the Office for Youth Ministry for the Detroit Archdiocese, where she is currently Regional Youth Ministry Coordinator. She has created a partnership between her archdiocese and the Diocese of Riobamba, Ecuador, and has taken numerous groups on mission and cultural immersion trips. Francois works primarily with youth from churches within the city of Detroit. She leads various local presentations and training connected to youth ministry.

Juan Carlos Montenegro

Juan Carlos Montenegro is Youth Ministry and Volunteer Coordinator for the Salesians of Don Bosco in Bellflower, Calif. He has devoted his life to working with youth, as a missionary in the middle of the Amazon rainforest and as a speaker at several international conferences. “JC,” as he is known to youth, has 17 years of youth ministry experience and has written three books; his latest publication, “Intentionally Catechist,” has been reproduced in Peru and Ecuador.

6-11  What is Hope but Courage Willed and Shared!       (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

Dr. Megan McKenna (bio 3-16)

We are told by Jesus: Do not be afraid! We are to live in the light, live in hope, standing with the Son of Man, and together be a blessing upon all and upon the earth. Where we stand, how we stand and with whom we stand is the stance of hope. How we share each other’s burdens reveals the depth of our hope. Come, dream visions of such clear light.

6-12  “For You Were Once Aliens!” (Ex. 22:20): The Bible on Immigrants  

Fr. J. Patrick Mullen, PhD (bio 2-16)

America, once a land of opportunity welcoming the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” has reconsidered itself as a place of open immigration ... but not without controversy. Good people line up on both sides of this hot topic. This workshop will investigate the biblical starting points and values, expanding the conversation beyond economic and legal considerations, to a Divine perspective on the outsider and the undocumented. Bring your Bible.

6-13  Hold Each Other – For God’s Sake: An Affirmation of the Gift of Sexuality       (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

Just before he died, Jesus said, “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” Another way to hear that: “Daddy, please hold me.” This plea, this need, this impulse, to hold and be held is at the core of sexuality. Jesus was good at this, good at sexuality. And like in all things, he invites us into this mystery with him, in the hope that, through the good use of this God-given gift of sexuality, all human beings might live more abundantly, more freely. This workshop will challenge you to be held when needed and to hold each other better.

Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson

A self-described “street theologian” who uses storytelling, poetry and humor, Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson is author and leader of the Beloved Retreat experience. He holds the position of Resident Theologian and Animator of Faith at Old St. Patrick’s Church in downtown Chicago. Dr. Nelson-Johnson also founded and is Animating and Creative Partner of Soul Play, based in Evanston, Ill., and has a two-volume audio CD set entitled “Soul Playdates.” His talks take him into Canada and across the United States.

6-14  T.H.I.N.K.: Five Ways to Deal with the Media in Your (Child’s) Life       (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

Entertainment media and consumerism are everywhere today. Advertising wants to sell us “family” values that have nothing to do with the Gospel. We wonder if media – from the movies to the news – is trying to inform us or entertain us. Violence as a way to solve problems is the dominant theme. Sr. Rose Pacatte will use T.H.I.N.K. as a framework that catechists and parents can use with students to engage popular culture through the lens of faith.

Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP

Sr. Rose Pacatte, a Daughter of St. Paul, is Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City, Calif. She is an award-winning film columnist for St. Anthony Messenger and the National Catholic Reporter. Her online show “The INNdustry with Sr. Rose” is a production of the Ignatian News Network and she reviews movies for kids for RCL Benziger. The media literacy education specialist has presented at the “Roots & Wings” Religious Education Conference in Durban, South Africa, and is a frequent presenter at the L.A. Congress.

6-15  Catholic Teaching and the Realities of the American Death Penalty  

Dale Recinella, JD & Dr. Susan Recinella (bios 2-20)

Dale Recinella, Catholic Correctional Chaplain for Florida’s death row, and Dr. Susan Recinella, clinical psychologist and volunteer lay minister for families of the condemned during executions and for families of murder victims in non-death penalty cases, present the realities of the American death penalty from the standpoint of Catholic teaching and explore the erroneous Scriptural support that is claimed by many pro-death-penalty Christians.

6-16  Pope Francis: What Does He Mean for the Church?     (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

Pope Francis has been a happy surprise for most Catholics. What will his papacy mean for the church? What are his views on the important issues facing the church? Where does he want to lead the church? Will he be a reforming pope? Will he make a difference?

Thomas J. Reese, SJ

Jesuit priest Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter. From 2006-13 he was Senior Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, where he focused on religion and public policy. From 1998-2005, he was Editor in Chief of America magazine. Among Fr. Reese’s books is “Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.” He has presented numerous parish and university talks across the country, and is often quoted in the press and frequently appears on television and radio on Catholic issues.

6-17  signs of God’s Grace: The Sacraments  

Thomas J. Scirghi, SJ, ThD (bio 1-18)

Our sacramental celebration is “primary theology,” for it is in church that we receive our first lesson in the study of God. The Christian sacraments are rooted in the teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ. This session will explore the origin of the sacraments through their scriptural foundation and their development through the history of the church. We will also explore the rituals of the church, for sacraments are designed to be celebrated.

6-18  The Pastoral Council: Building a Living, Hope-filled Community, Not a Corporate Body of Management  

Bro. Loughlan Sofield (bio 2-22)

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops describes the purpose of the pastoral council: “to build the parish as a living Christian community.” This workshop will explore ways to structure the council in such a way that it helps to build a parish that is hope-filled, life-filled and life-giving. The material presented is based on Bro. Loughlan Sofield’s experience of working with councils on a number of different continents.

6-19  Happiness, Suffering and the Love of God: Why Would an All-loving God Allow Suffering?        (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ, PhD (bio 3-25)

One of the most difficult intellectual challenges Catholics must face today is why an all-loving God would allow suffering. Inability to explain suffering not only leads to unbelief, but wasted pain and an embittered spirit. Fr. Robert Spitzer will discuss a proven, four-step method for helping people in our schools, colleges and parishes to resolve this quandary properly: 1) developing a contributive and transcendent view of happiness and purpose in life; 2) presenting evidence of a soul and eternal life; 3) explaining why God would allow people and nature to cause suffering; and 4) showing how we can suffer well – with deep benefit toward an eternal life of unconditional love with the Lord.

6-20  the ABCs of Faith Formation with Youth      (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

When we gather young people together, are we playing games, hoping to survive, or intentionally forming disciples? What’s the secret to staying faithful to our cate­chetical calling of echoing the faith while leading teens down the road of discipleship? Come and (actively) learn the ABCs of faith formation designed to help you engage young people’s heads, hearts and hands.

Michael Theisen

Michael Theisen has been involved in youth ministry and adolescent catechesis for 30 years, authoring more than 15 books and numerous articles. His experience extends from parish to diocesan and national levels, and is a frequent speaker and trainer throughout the United States. Theisen is Director of Membership Services for the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Washington, D.C., and is extensively involved in two national initiatives: the Partnership for Adolescent Catechesis; and Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth.

6-21  Sacraments for Older Children: Practical Ideas to Address the Need  

There are many children in our parishes who have reached the age of reason (7 years or older) without receiving one or all of their primary sacraments. For some, it may be appropriate to start an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process adapted for children. For the other children who have already been baptized and need First Eucharist and Reconciliation, we have to design a catch-up process. The goal of this workshop is to provide helpful ideas and practical ways to address that need. The importance of bringing parents into the process in an intentional manner will also be discussed.

Victor Valenzuela

Victor Valenzuela is a National Religion Consultant for Bilingual Resources for William H. Sadlier, Inc. He has presented workshops to numerous groups both regionally and nationally. He has been in ministry for 20 years including classroom teaching, youth ministry, teacher training, and writing and development of new materials. Born in Arizona to parents of Mexican descent and fully bilingual and bicultural, he has lived most of his life in the Bay Area and currently resides in Alameda, Calif.

6-22  HIV Prevention Based on the Dignity of the Human Person: Effective and Faithful Responses  

Elizabeth Crabb Breen, PhD (originally scheduled with Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo)

The Catholic Church is often scapegoated, by media and by public health officials, as an obstacle to effective HIV prevention. This workshop will examine scientific facts and strategies as well as Church teachings on HIV prevention. Examples of successful prevention efforts undertaken by Catholic Church-inspired organizations will be presented, including those that promote risk-avoidance rather than mere risk-reduction behavior changes and other holistic interventions that are respectful of the dignity of the human person.

6-23  Setting Your Choir on Fire!  

Christopher Walker (bio 1-23)

The liturgical choir is one of God’s secret weapons that can inspire a dull liturgy and a listless assembly! We will explore ways the choir can itself be energized to minister more effectively. Come ready to sing!

6-24  Parenting Teens & Surviving With Grace!  

Char Wenc, MEd. (bio 1-24)

Our job as parents is indeed challenging at times. It is difficult to be consistent in our decisions. However, it is one of the greatest gifts we give our teens. If we are “wishy-washy,” we give our teens no foundation upon which to make their decisions. Our limits give our children the security and boundaries that they so need in this world! In this workshop, Char Wenc will give a wide range of techniques and skills to say “NO” with respect and love. It takes courage. This session is high energy, humorous and practical. Its goal is to empower and encourage parents through their parenting of a teens’ journey.

6-25  Fanning A Small Flame into a Mighty Fire  

Sometimes our hope and enthusiasm can be smothered by anxiety and tiredness. Unintentionally and unconsciously, we lose hope and replace our confidence with self-doubt. In a recent synod in Rome, the bishops called for a New Evangelization, an experience they say that must begin with us, a sometimes “weary” Church. Is it time to fan the flame we carry into a new fire, a fire the world will recognize? Like St. Paul challenging Timothy, it may be that we too are entering a new era, a season to “fan into flame the gifts God has given us.” In this session, we will explore how a New Evangelization will help us to invigorate our Catholic confidence and renew our hope for a world afire.

David Wells

David Wells began his career as a teacher before becoming a research assistant for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Since then, his work has taken him all over the world, and especially to Canada where he has appeared on national television. He presently serves as Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Plymouth, in the south of England. Wells has spoken at more than 350 conferences worldwide, in Europe and North America, and he has guest lectured in three English universities. This is his 14th appearance at the Los Angeles Congress.

6-26  Enkindle the Light of Hope Through Dance  

If we “learn to live by practicing living,” then come practice movements in dance that will help our practice of social justice, equity and peace. The principles are the same. With an eye toward realizing a world that embraces the spiritual and social challenges of the Gospel message, experience the power of prayerful movement and sacred dance. This interactive workshop will be led by John West, Artistic Director of the Valyermo Dancers.

John West, Obl OSB, MEd, MA

John West is Headmaster for the Mirman School for the Gifted in Los Angeles and serves as an Educational Consultant for independent schools and schools for the gifted. This oblate of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, Calif., is an international and national workshop leader/lecturer in medieval and sacred dance, West’s experience with the Religious Education Congress began in 1970; since 1991, he has served on the Congress Liturgy Committee. He is also a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy.

6-27  Attention, Please! Using the Divine Pedagogy to Help Children Focus and Engage in Their Faith       (WORKSHOP CLOSED)

In the midst of our culture of distractions, God is continually inviting us into a relationship with him. By reflecting on the divine pedagogy (the way God teaches us), we can gain insights about how to craft our catechesis in ways that meet the attentional and spiritual needs of children today. This workshop, facilitated by child psychologist and catechetical author Dr. Joseph White, will provide practical steps for making our catechesis more attention-grabbing, formative and fun.

Dr. Joseph D. White

Based in Austin, Texas, Dr. Joseph White is a clinical child psychologist and National Catechetical Consultant for Our Sunday Visitor Publishing and Curriculum. He has taught courses in catechetics and pastoral guidance at the University of Dallas and at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. White is a popular workshop presenter at national and diocesan conferences, a frequent guest on national Catholic radio shows and maintains a blog on catechesis.

6-70     Teaching Young People the Burning Question Concerning Moral Life: “Bioethics”  

Bro. Fortunat Phong, FSC (bio 3-70)

In this workshop, we will share with youth the loving and caring teaching of the Church concerning some keys to bioethics, including abortion, prenatal screening, assisted reproductive technology, embryo research, and end-of-life issues. (Session presented in Vietnamese.)


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