By Mike Nelson
THE FIRST RELIGIOUS Education Congress of the new
century will include a new look Anaheim Convention
Center and a triumvirate of keynote speakers.
The Convention Center, host to Congress since 1970,
has undergone massive renovation and expansion which
boosts the facility's total space by more than 40
percent to 1.6 million square feet.
Massive street repairs and renovation in the area
around the Convention Center and Disneyland have been
underway for more than two years and are almost
complete. However, commuters to Anaheim are nonetheless
advised to allow extra travel time and to carpool if
As for Congress itself, the April 8 keynote talk will
address "Voices of Hope: Building a World of Communion
and Justice." The speakers are Sister Elizabeth Johnson,
a theologian and consultant to the U.S. bishops'
Committee on Women in the Church and Society; Arun
Manila Ghandi, grandson of Mahatma Ghandi and founder of
an institute for nonviolence; and Craig Kielburger,
16-year-old leader of a world movement aimed at
promoting nonviolent conflict resolution.
Two keynote talks addressing nonviolence will be
presented April 9, by Ghandi in English and by Bishop
Samuel Ruiz Garcia of Chiapas, Mexico, in Spanish. Among
the 200-plus workshops in English, Spanish and
Vietnamese will be talk on forgiveness by Bud Welch,
father of a 19-year-old daughter killed in the 1995
Oklahoma City federal building bombing, and by Linda and
Peter Biehl, whose daughter Amy was murdered during
South Africa's struggle for democracy.
The entertainment portion of Congress will include an
April 9 lunchtime performance of "Late Night Catechism"
starring Mary Pat Donovan as "Sister." A 30-year
retrospective of liturgical music used at Congress will
be led by John Flaherty and Gary Daigle on April 7;
liturgical composer Marty Haugen will present his newest
musical theater piece, "Luke, the Feast of Life" on
April 8; and lunchtime performances will feature Rory
Cooney, Donna Peña, Theresa Donohoo, Grayson Warren
Brown and Peter Rubalcava.
Congress will begin April 6 with Youth Day for high
school age students. For information, call (213)
On April 7, the "adult" portion of Congress will open
with an event combining musical celebration and
spiritual reflection led by Cardinal Roger Mahony and
Sister Edith Prendergast, director of the Office of
Religious Education. Throughout the weekend, eucharistic
liturgies and prayer services will be celebrated in a
variety of languages and cultural forms (including
Hispanic, African American, Native American, Asian
Pacific, charismatic and Hawaiian).
Bishop Tod Brown of Orange and Cardinal Mahony will
preside at the morning and afternoon Masses on April 9.
This year's Congress theme is "Awaken Hope – Shout
Jubilee," taken from the readings of the day, the fifth
Sunday of Lent.
For information on Congress, call (213) 637-7346.