LOS ANGELES – More than one-hundred-twenty (120) religious educators and members of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), will be among Catholics gathering in Los Angeles, Calif., next weekend for four days of training, discussion, celebration, and prayer at the annual Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. The Congress, sponsored by the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese Office of Religious Education, gives catechists an opportunity to explore issues and exchange ideas related to their common calling to teach the Catholic Faith. The Congress will take place Feb. 25-28 at the Anaheim Convention Center, 800 West Katella Avenue, Anaheim, Calif. Some 40,000 delegates from the United States and other countries are expected to participate in the Youth Day and Religious Education Congress, the theme of which is “Boundless Mercy.”
The AMS group, consisting of catechists and clergy from U. S. Military installations throughout the western region of the country, will focus on ways to develop catechetical leadership in faith formation programs for military families. On Friday evening, Feb. 26, at an appreciation dinner co-sponsored by the AMS and by Catholic publisher RCL Benziger, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, will deliver a talk on “Proclaiming God’s Mercy with Joy to Military Families.” The Thursday-to-Sunday schedule is otherwise filled with workshops, speeches (in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese), exhibits, and other events as well as the celebration of Mass and Evening Prayer.
The AMS is also co-sponsoring, with Loyola Press, two workshops in support of its religion curriculum guide, Forming Disciples for the New Evangelization, for grades Pre-K to 12. Attention will focus on families with special needs youth and children. The workshops are as follows:
- #2.22 Faith Formation for Ministry with the Special Needs Community (Friday, Feb. 26, 1:00-2:30 p.m.) Description: In this workshop, faith formation leaders will be guided in best practice models, methodologies, and resources. Mary O’Meara will use Forming Disciples for the New Evangelization as the teaching guide to better help special needs students and their families grow in the knowledge, understanding, and living out of their faith as valued members of their parish community.
- #7.17 From Access to Belonging (Sunday, Feb. 28, 10:00-11:30 am) Description: In this workshop, we will explore the notion of persons with special needs moving past being simple “recipients” of the faith, toward being agents of the Gospel message. Ways for including persons with disabilities and special needs in the life of the parish and across that person’s life span, will also be discussed. As the Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities states, “We are a single flock under the care of a single Shepherd. There can be no separate Church for persons with disabilities.”
Mr. Jose Amaya, AMS Director of Faith Formation, said:
“The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress is a great continuing education opportunity for military catechetical leaders and catechists to nourish their faith journey with Jesus Christ, to strengthen their skills to teach the Catholic faith to all and to connect with other military and civilian leaders attending from around the world. Participants will find the liturgies, general assemblies, and the breakout sessions to be inspiring and formative to continue the mission to be missionary disciples for Jesus Christ. The exhibit hall is an excellent place to meet with Catholic publishers and converse about resources for ministry.”
The AMS group includes lay leaders and clergy from the following military installations: Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.; Joint Base (JB) Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nev.; JB Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Edwards AFB, Calif.; Naval Base (NB) San Diego, Calif.; Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Los Angeles AFB, Calif.; NB Coronado, Calif.; Patrick AFB, Fla.; Kirtland AFB, N.M.;U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey, Calif.; and Hill AFB, Utah.