RECongress Memories

Religious Education Congress

February 19, 2004 (Youth Day)
February 20-22, 2004

This year, the Religious Education Congress celebrates its 37th anniversary. The first Congress -- then titled the Southern California Confraternity Congress -- was held in 1967 at the International Hotel, one of the Los Angeles International Airport area hotels. It offered 15 speakers in 61 workshops. ... Last year's Congress attracted over 30,000 for the four-day weekend! Its 171 speakers presented 268 workshops in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

In this look back, we'd like to hear of your experiences of past Congresses. Let us know about the first Congress you attended, or the most memorable event you recall from Congress. 

Name: Chris
Date: September 04, 2003

I remember my first Youth Day back in 1979 with Ron Griffin and his group performing the theme song that year, "He Calls Us Each by Name." And how approachable Cardinal Timothy Manning was -- right there out with the youth in the Arena entrance. I remember how he stopped by and met some of from our Youth Group at St. Mary's in Whittier -- talking with us, laughing, and sharing our bag of Fritos Corn Chips!

Name: Father Drew
Date: September 12, 2003

I attended 2001 & 2002. I was so impressed by the organization, speakers and Masses that, God willing and the creek don't rise, I shall continue coming to Los Angeles from North Carolina each year. We are truly Church Catholic. May God continue to bless all who make it so wonderful -- participants, lectors, those behind the scenes, and all who help set up and clean up. Pax et bonum

Name: Sharon Hines-West
Date: September 16, 2003

I attended my first Youth Day in 1973. I followed that up with Youth Days in 1974, 1975, and 1976. In fact, I still have the booklet from the 1974 Youth Day. The Theme was JOY: Jesus/Others/You. Bob Hurd was there with his St. John's Seminary group, White Bird.

I attended my first full congress my senior year of high school. I remember meeting Cardinal McIntyre around 10:00 p.m. one evening as we passed each other in the parking lot.

Name: Tom Selbach
Date: September 17, 2003

I attended for the first time in 2003, and was stunned by the sheer size of the offerings and the number of attendees. The liturgies beautifully reflected not only the multicultural nature of the hosting L.A. Diocese, but of the worldwide church. And who could forget the sight of Cardinal Mahony dancing with the Native American dancers at the opening liturgy?

As a church musician, I was thrilled & inspired by the musical offerings--and by seeing dance incorporated into the services. The workshops by some of the best people in the field show us parish musicians a fuller range of what is possible, and what really works. A truly memorable weekend.

Name: Skye
Date: September 26, 2003

I attended the Youth Days back in the '70s and I still have my songbook as well -- AND I still use it! And I still have the same guitar, as well. I also remember the E. Kubler-Ross workshops were the most popular and always filled up. I never got to see her, but it must've left an impression on me anyway because now I do the same type of work. And if I still lived in California I would come and do a workshop. So who knows ... maybe someday....

Name: Val Rios
Date: October 06, 2003

My first CCD Congress experience was in 1971. I was 18 and completely overwhelmed by the entire experience. I especially remember the closing liturgy. Never before had I witnessed so many clergy, religious and laity truly worshiping in one setting. It was indeed a spirit-filled event!

Name: Vera Saville
Date: November 04, 2003

I have been attending the Congress since 1987. It has always been a special event in my spiritual life as well as my social life in the Church. I have met many friends through the Congress and have brought many friends. I buy the tapes and share them with parishioners that can't attend. I particularly appreciate Fr. Richard Rohr. I've order many cassettes by him which have truly enriched my life and my friends' with whom I share and dialogue.

Name: Frances Ramirez
Date: November 20, 2003

I remember my first Congress was in 1988. Kathleen Kelly took me it was totally awesome. I have never ever experience anything as wonderful. I will continue to go as long as the good Lord will allow me. I will always remember Kathleen every Congress we had such a fantastic time. And so, Kathleen, my memories are for you and will miss you totally. See you at Congress 2004.

Name: David da Rosa
Date: December 29, 2003

Congress is like a reunion. I was active at a Newman Centre in Arizona, studied at GTU in Berkeley and ministered in the San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and Orange dioceses. Congress is a place where I reconnect with the people I've met in all those places.

Name: Rogelio Martinez
Date: January 04, 2004

I think this Congress will be even better than the other years. 

Name: Carrie-Lou Gray
Date: January 07, 2004

I attended my first Congress in 1970, and never in my wildest dreams thought the 34 years later, I would still be attending. The group who did most of the music was The Dameans. In 1978, I met Buddy Cesar while my husband and I were stationed in Louisiana. Congress has been a part of my fondest memories over the years, from announcing our impending marriage in the hospitality room for our parish. Congress has been a place to share memories, laughter, and even tears. Thirty-four years later, I am proud to share the Congress experience with my oldest child, Veronica, who is now a Confirmation Program Coordinator, and my youngest child Matthew, who works actively in Youth Ministry and assists with YDCT.

Congress has fulfilled many needs I have had during hard times in my life. In 1991, after having gone through a rough divorce, it seemed as though God had planned for me to be there, as there were many workshops about a divorced Catholic's place in our church. It has provided healing in the grieving process as well. I just do not know how I would feel if I missed it.And, just like Frances ramirez, Kathleen Kelly had much to do with my being at many Congresses over the years.

See you very soon!

Name: Bobby C
Date: February 04, 2004

I am, proudly, one of the newer "alumni" of Youth Day. I attended the 2000 and 2001 Youth Days. I think my favorite memories are just the ones shared with members of my own youth group. We did have SO much fun. One thing that stands out in my mind, still, nearly 3 or 4 years later, was Jesse, and his wonderful songs. Hey Lord! I can see your fire... funny, I still remember the exact moves that went along with the song. :) 

Name: Liz
Date: February 19, 2004

I attended Youth Day 2004 with my teenage niece and nephews. It was an awesome experience to see thousands of young people sharing their Catholic faith. The workshops we attended were entertaining, and their messages were clear. God loves us no matter what. We need to place our trust in Him through good times and bad. We're sinners and need to ask Him for forgiveness. Though we are all separate individuals, with God, we can accomplish great things! Thank you for a wonderful day!

Name: Bobby
Date: February 23, 2004

2004 Congress is my first time to attend. I have heard about it before but did not pay much attention. I thought it was just one of those day long seminars...What I experienced beginning with the Youth Day was beyond what I could conceptualize or imagine....It is hard to describe....someone has to experience it....the dynamics, the organization, the fellowship, the music, the liturgies, prayers, resources, the community in a bond of love and united in one faith and yet with such openness...the atmosphere, the was heavenly!!!

Name: Angelo
Date: February 23, 2004

I attended the last Congress (Feb. 2004) and it was FANTASTIC. I loved the people, and the other teens my age around. The two workshop my group choose were WONDERFUL. It really touched me, as a matter of fact it inspired us all to attend next year's Congress with our whole group. Well this is for now and hope to see you all next year.

Name: Anne
Date: February 25, 2004

My husband and I both attended the Congress this year for the first time. As a youth minister, I was able to gain so many ideas and insights throughout the weekend! On a spiritual level, our presence at the Congress together strengthened the relationship between my husband and I. We really enjoyed the young adult events especially! We both can't wait to come next year!

Name: Sandy Wood
Date: February 26, 2004

This year's (2004) Congress was my very first. I was completely overwhelmed. I was truly touched by the spirit with tears. I wept because I felt true love from God. There is no other reason for tears in my life. God forgives me for all past wrongs and I truly felt it this past weekend. Thank you for helping me truly know and feel this blessing. I hope to never miss a Religious Education Congress in Anaheim!

Name: Gabrielle
Date: February 27, 2004

Wonderful! No words to describe how many people were "oozing" with mercy, thus dripping their own balm for our world. Loved the Hawaiian Liturgy, especially the dressing of the Altar and the procession of the Gospel. How come there aren't any pictures of the dressing of the Altar during the Hawaiian Liturgy?

The youth of the church are doing fine after participating with them in the Liturgical Movement in the Hawaiian Liturgy. Wonder Liturgy, Wonderful people, Wonderful experience! Looking forward to next year...

Name: Mary Lou McGee
Date: March 15, 2004

I know how much I have treasured Congress over the years and having the “privilege” to coordinate Congress 2004 this year was the best memory of all for me.

Name: Kathleen E. Neff
Date: April 04, 2004

I do not remember the year, but my Aunt from Venice, CA met up with me for dinner and we decided to attend the play "Herstory," offered as an evening event. There were many technical difficulties and we sat for more than an hour past the time it was to have started (and we had not yet eaten dinner.) We were so glad we was amazing. The music, the voices of the two talented actresses, and the human touch to the age-old story of Christ and his mother, told through her words, was truly a spiritual experience. And it was a momentous and amazing thing to attend this with my beloved Auntie. We still talk about that time at Congress at "Herstory".

Date: June 29, 2004

If only we could have been fair in 1968 when I graduated from VERBUM DEI.You know nothing good ever comes from VERBUM DEI

Name: Linda Price
Date: August 04, 2004

I attended my first Congress in 1980, Many Gifts, One Body. I was a catechist and a mother of two small children. I actually cried during some of the liturgies they were so moving and beautiful. The feeling I got of "Church" still gives me chills as I attended more Congresses. My husband now attends with me and it is even more wonderful to see his joy and since he is a convert, his further understanding of Church. I owe alot to Congress for now I am a Director of Religious Formation and I know that in 1980 the Lord was molding me for future work with the faithful.

Name: Bryce
Date: November 04, 2004

Well, I've never been to one of these. But Ron Griffin was my father. He passed away when I was 2, and now I'm just a few weeks from my 16th birthday, and  I have found this website.

Name: Thomas Paez
Date: April 01, 2005

In 1987 when I was a junior at St. John Bosco High School. I had the opportunity to go see Pope John Paul II at the Universal City Amphitheater, on September 17 Youth Event. I was so touched by his presence and his words. I would like to have some pictures of that event! I hope and pray that somebody can help. It really would mean a lot.

Name: Soji Oduyomi
Date: April 06, 2005

God is able to. I am here to comment on what God done during the Congress. God is able as I say it. thanks

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