2015 RECongress Period 6

Religious Education Congress
Saturday, March 14, 2015

3:00 - 4:30 pm



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6-01  Calling Youth to Passionate Discipleship 

Steve Angrisano (bio 3-01)

It’s not enough to teach our young people about God, we need to provide them with opportunities that draw them into an experience with God, an experience they yearn to share with the world. The youth that we encounter in our parishes as part of catechesis, youth ministry and sacramental preparation are ready for this challenge. In this workshop, we will explore ways to engage youth to live the Word, share the Word, and be the next generation of faith-filled disciples.

6-02  Women and the Word: Bridging the Gap 

Dianne Bergant, CSA (bio 4-02)

In this session, a lens sensitive to gender issues will be trained on the biblical tradition, examining language, social roles assigned to women, and presuppositions that influence one’s worldview. The Exodus theme will then be use Enlightenment: Shaping Lent for Those in the RCIA Process 

Relying on decades of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) ministry experience, Mary Birmingham shares the sessions she has developed to shape a Lenten season with conversion at the core for those in RCIA. Discover ways to create a 40-day retreat to help prepare catechumens for the celebration of the sacraments of initiation.

Mary Birmingham

Mary Birmingham has been involved in RCIA ministry on a national level since 1992. She is a Master Catechist for the Diocese of Orlando, Fla., and travels extensively throughout the United States and Canada presenting diocesan workshops. Birmingham is a former team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate and currently Director of Liturgy, Music and Christian Initiation at Ascension Parish in Melbourne, Fla. Her works include the book, “Formed in Faith.”

6-04  Seeing In the Dark 

After struggling through darkness, suffering and even traumatic events, how might God be inviting us to turn the corner? What are the keys to resilience? What can we learn from our faith about the grace to regroup, to be renewed and rise to new life after periods of darkness? Weaving together the wisdom of God’s Word and our faith, along with what science is teaching us about the brain’s ability to be resilient, we can offer others hope that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Someone is there in the dark with us helping us to find our way back.

Sr. Kathleen Bryant, RSC

Sr. Kathleen Bryant, a Religious Sister of Charity, ministers as a retreat facilitator, spiritual director and workshop presenter. With experience as a teacher and missionary, her special interests are in spirituality, formation, women’s spiritual development and abolition of human trafficking. Sr. Bryant has authored numerous articles and books and presented workshops in Australia, Ireland and Africa as well as throughout the United States. Her latest work is entitled “Vocations Anonymous.”

6-05  The Trinity: How Not to be a Heretic 

This is a simple workshop about an even simpler subject: the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This must be simple for the Christian God is “supreme simplicity” (St. Anselm) and “Trinity” is the Church’s shorthand description of who God actually is … and who he needs to be in order to save us. Unfortunately, many Christians – preachers, teachers and catechists included – are uncomfortable talking about the Trinity, fearing they’ll say the “wrong thing.” Therefore, to equip them to tell others, this workshop explains what it means to say God is a Trinity, why Christianity is so convinced that God must be, and how it can all possibly make sense.

Dr. Stephen Bullivant

Dr. Stephen Bullivant is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Ethics at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, England. He has seven years of university teaching experience, and has given talks and lectures in the United Kingdom, Finland, Italy, the Philippines, Brazil and the United States. The award-winning theologian’s recent books include “The Oxford Handbook of Atheism,” “Faith and Unbelief” and “The Trinity: How Not to be a Heretic.”

6-06  Come and See, Come and Sing, Come and Pray! 

To sing is to pray twice! But those of us who work with children know that when you move you pray thrice! Come and join Aussie Andrew Chinn as he explores a range of musical, artistic and singing techniques that use the richness of our senses to enhance our religious education programs with children. We’ll sing, dance, draw and pray, and share a few laughs along the way. Chinn brings a wealth of experience in the field to share, with 20 years as an elementary teacher and 12 as a full-time music minister. Here is a workshop for those who minister to elementary students.

Andrew Chinn

Andrew Chinn worked as a classroom teacher in Catholic elementary schools in Sydney, Australia, for nearly 20 years before moving into full-time music ministry as Director of Butterfly Music. He has visited 970 Catholic elementary schools, performing for children, teachers and catechists in 2,000 concerts across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Chinn has released nine CDs, five DVDs and five picture books. In 2013 he joined the World Library Publications family that now distributes his music in North America.

6-07 Trading in Old Wineskins: A Missionary Approach to Parish Life 

Rich Curran (bio 1-04)

Average Sunday attendance is 30 percent, really? What happened to enjoying favor with all people (Acts 2:47)? Is it really the by-product of the culture or did we just get so comfortable doing church that we stopped being Church. While our teachings are timeless, our approach to evangelizing is not. There is no need to retreat to the past or go back to the upper room. Modern realities simply require a new focus on creating a culture of discipleship, identifying missionary leaders, multiplying those leaders and leading boldly into the darkness of the world.

6-08  “Seeing” Our Faith – Right Before Our Eyes 

Rev. John C. Cusick (bio 2-06)

Our Catholic faith, like all religions, is a compilation of doctrines, rules and practices. Yet, Catholicism has another two dimensions that are visual reminders of all that we believe: an amazing collection of signs and symbols. All too often we either take them for granted or don’t understand them. This workshop will present a practical appreciation for and an understanding of what we “see” inside our churches and homes.

6-09  The Start of Something BIG – Following Through with Newly Confirmed Youth 

Tom East (bio 3-04)

The sacrament of confirmation strengthens youth for mission and witness. It should be the beginning of something wonderful! How can we support newly confirmed youth in their adventure as disciples? This workshop will explore vision, practices and resources for following through with youth who have received confirmation and active discipleship.

6-10  Joy of the Gospel for Lesbian and Gay Catholics in the Time of Pope Francis  

Pope Francis has modeled a pastoral stance for embracing lesbian and gay Catholics. This session will examine Evangelii Gaudium, the Holy Father’s 2013 Apostolic Exhortation, which invites us to catechize and evangelize first and foremost with a spirit of God’s love and mercy. This will set the tone for considering the 2014 Synod of Bishops and the 2015 Pontifical Council for the Family’s “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” As Pope Francis challenges the Church to acknowledge difficult pastoral situations and respond with love and mercy, these reflections will guide us in creating a place for lesbian and gay Catholics in today’s Church.

Arthur G. Fitzmaurice, PhD

Dr. Arthur Fitzmaurice is Resource Director of the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry, based in Washington, D.C. He formerly served as Chair for the Los Angeles Archdiocese Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Persons. Dr. Fitzmaurice has spoken at national and diocesan conferences, including the Faith Formation Conference and the Gay Christian Network. He also appears in several of Ignatian News Network’s YouTube series on pastoral care of LGBT Catholics.

Fr. Chris Ponnet

Los Angeles-native Fr. Chris Ponnet was ordained for the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1983. Since then he has served as Director for the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic HIV/AIDS Ministry. Fr. Ponnet has also been involved with the U.S. bishops’ peace pastoral regarding non-violent action; their statement, “Always Our Children,” is among the many primary church documents he addresses. He speaks regularly and provides consultation and spiritual direction to those in and connected to ministry.

6-11  Teachers, Transformation and Technology: How Teachers Help Student Leaders Change the World 

Dan Friedt (bio 2-09)

Teachers, are you working at a school that has gone “BYOD” (bring your own device)? Maybe you have just started to bring technology into the classroom and wonder where it’s all going. In this dynamic, interactive presentation, you will be taken on a journey of iProtocols, iApps and iDevices (iPAD). Dan Friedt will share his top five apps, and why. He will talk about rolling out 1-to-1 devices and BYOD. Teachers, this session is for you, because the heart of the presentation is how teacher transformation and technology can support students as they choose their tools to change the world.

6-12  The Rage Against God: The Arrogance and Hostility of the New Atheists 

There is nothing new in the arguments of the New Atheists, but the level of open hostility to people of faith is. This new militant atheism ridicules Christians and people of faith, calling them demented, stupid, anti-human and, in the end, just evil. Religious education is equated with child abuse, and believers are held responsible for the war, violence and evil we see in society. The New Atheists’ goal is to eliminate religion from society. Why such hostility? They truly believe the world would be a better place without religion. Let’s test that hypothesis and respond to their accusations.

Darrell Hall

Darrell Hall has taught religious education for 34 years and is former Principal at St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby, British Colombia, Canada. He has presented at the Catholic Educator’s Conference in British Columbia, at Catholic Christian Outreach “Rise Up” Conferences, at the Reverence for Life Conferences, and at several senior high schools, retreats and various parishes. Hall has published a book on Christian apologetics entitled, “I Am Convinced: God, the Truth and You.”

6-13  Worship Transforming the World: Seeing, Singing and Serving the Reign of God

The vocation of every Christian is to be Christ’s voice and hands and heart in the world, to labor on behalf of the vulnerable and dispossessed, to advocate and work for peace and equal justice for all. Worship, especially Sunday Eucharist, is the primary place where we are formed and transformed for this calling. How can our liturgies better empower us to “see” Christ present in the world and its people? How do those of us who prepare and lead liturgy refine our skills and talents, support one another, inspire our communities and model Christ’s vision of God’s Reign?

Marty Haugen

For over 30 years, composer Marty Haugen has presented workshops, concerts and presentations across North and Central America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific Rim. With over 35 recordings and 400 published editions, his range of musical compositions continues to appear in hymnals for United States, Canadian and Australian Catholics, Evangelical Lutherans and other Protestant denominations. His latest work, “Lyric Psalter” (with Tony Alonso), is a resource of a three-year cycle of Psalms from the Lectionary for Mass.

6-14  Gospel Laughter 

Fr. James Martin, SJ (bio 2-20)

Too often the Gospel message is reduced to a bland series of dos and don’ts. Join Fr. James Martin in looking at not only the places where Jesus shows us his own joy, but also how the saints and the great spiritual masters used joy, humor and laughter in their quest to holiness. All this and some great jokes, too!

6-15  Mary of Galilee, Mary Model of Faith 

This workshop will gather the core teachings about Mary from the Bible, from Catholic dogma and from Vatican II. Particular emphasis will be given to the implications of these teachings for contemporary Christian faith.

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 made presentations and presented workshops for dioceses, pastoral institutes and ministry formation programs throughout the United States, and 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.”

6-16  Seeing the Gift of Body: Jesus and the Good Use of Sexuality 

How many times did Jesus use his body in relationship with others: comforting, exorcising, healing? And yet, do we consider Jesus’ body really human? The sort that made noises, felt worn out and needed care? And yet, interactions of bodies (handshakes, hugs, holding) define a central part of humanity: our sexuality. We exercise this God-given gift through the good use of our bodies, in a consoling pat, an affectionate caress, or a congratulatory high five. Jesus’ use of his body can be a model for us. Come learn from Jesus what it means to exercise the gift of sexuality, to bring life and love more fully into the world.

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, and holds the position of Resident Theologian and Animator of Faith at Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago, where he formerly served as Dean of Formation. Dr. Nelson-Johnson also is founder and Animating & Creative Partner of Soul Play in Evanston, Ill., where he lives. He travels to Europe and across the United States presenting to adult and youth diocesan events and conferences.

6-17  Help! We’re Busy, Addicted and Bored: Reaching Out to the Real Modern Family 

Roy Petitfils, MS, LPC (bio 3-21)

If you’ve ever felt frustrated because your events were competing with everything else families are committed to, this workshop is for you. Effectively inviting families to new life in Christ requires understanding their deep motivations for prioritizing their schedules. This dynamic session will reveal the deep reasons people are busier, more addicted and less content than any other time in history. You’ll leave with insight and tools to help craft compelling messages and programing that youth and adults will not only want to attend, but will bring friends.

6-18  Answering the Most Frequent Catholic Questions About the Death Penalty 

Dale S. Recinella, JD, MTS & Susan M. Recinella, PsyD (bios 3-23)

Dale and Susan Recinella will begin by sharing their answers to the general Catholic questions most frequently directed to them about the death penalty and death row/execution ministry: “How can American Catholics approach the reality of the death penalty in light of current church teaching?” “How do you pray with inmates on death row?” “How is the death penalty and abortion linked for Catholics?” “How does restorative justice function in murder cases?” A significant portion of the time will be spent answering audience questions from the floor.

6-19  Story Time with Uncle Fr. Tony: Bringing the Scriptures to Life  Arena

It said that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus frequently used parables as a means of illustrating divine truths. These stories are easily remembered and their symbolism is rich in meaning. As preachers and teachers of the faith, we are called to awaken Sacred Scripture for those we serve by the using our personal parables. This interactive workshop will guide you through the use of our personal stories as we reconnect with the stories of Jesus and his followers. Together, let us explore how the Scriptures of old are alive and well today.

Rev. R. Tony Ricard, MTh, MDiv

Fr. Tony Ricard, a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, La., currently serves as theology teacher for St. Augustine High School in his native city of New Orleans. He is also an instructor for the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University and Director of Knight Time Ministries. Fr. Tony Ricard, a former pastor and public schoolteacher, has authored many books and has given keynote addresses, retreats, revivals and youth talks across the nation, and has preached in 22 countries.

6-20  Pauline Spirituality for Lent 

Brian Schmisek (bio 2-24)

Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, was a multilingual, multicultural minority living in the multi-religious Roman Empire. His experience of the Risen Christ radically changed the trajectory of his life. Rather than a mere recitation of doctrine or creeds, Paul’s very life gave witness to the power of the Risen Christ. His letters are often the second reading of the Sunday liturgy but can be overlooked in favor of the Gospel. What can we learn from Paul and his experience that is applicable today? In this session, we will explore how Paul’s life and spirituality can be an example for us in this Lenten season.

6-21  Longing to See Your Face: Preaching for a New Millennium 

Rev. Thomas J. Scirghi, SJ, ThD (bio 2-25)

Pope Francis says: “It takes more than intellectual assent to truly get to know Jesus – we must also develop a personal relationship.” Preaching helps us to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Liturgical preaching is sacramental: It provides an opportunity to meet the living Lord. The Word of God proclaimed and preached comes alive for us – at least it should – in our hearing. This session will discuss the craft of Christian preaching from the pulpit as well as from the pew. How do we tell the story? How do we hear it?

6-22  “Here’s What Happened”: Telling Spiritually Significant Experiences in Story Form 

John Shea (bio 4-24)

When we take stock of the resources we have to support, develop and direct our spiritual life, we immediately consider the many offerings the Church provides to deepen our relationship to God and neighbor – sacraments, Scripture, ministries and multiple service opportunities. However, there is often a complementary and overlooked resource – our own experiences. We will tell stories of spiritually significant experiences and explore how this process enriches and transforms our lives.

6-23  An Invitation to Con version: 7 Practical Ideas to Invigorate the Sacraments 

The New Evangelization calls us to take a closer look at what we have been doing in catechesis and do it in a different manner. We no longer can just say, “This is the way we have always done it,” we need to make it better. The sacraments are a great opportunity for the New Evangelization. We must focus preparation for sacraments by focusing on conversion and mystagogia. This workshop will provide practical ideas and activities so that catechesis around the sacraments can be transformed into powerful faith moments.

Victor Valenzuela

Victor Valenzuela is a National Religion Consultant for Bilingual Resources for William H. Sadlier, Inc. For more than 20 years has been working in Hispanic ministry and in various parish ministries including youth ministry and religious education, even writing and developing new materials. Valenzuela has presented workshops to numerous groups both regionally and nationally. 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.

6-24  “Lord, I SEE! – Can I Sing About It?’ 

Come and sing! This session will help you to learn and enjoy exploring ways that music can lead us closer to God and one another. It will offer practical help on good principles on leading people in song as cantors, choir members and teachers.

Christopher Walker

Christopher Walker is an internationally known church composer, speaker on liturgical music and choral conductor. He served as Director of Music for the Clifton Cathedral in the United Kingdom for 18 years, and now is Director of Music at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Los Angeles. A conductor of choirs and orchestras in England and the United States, Walker travels the globe giving workshops and lectures on church music and liturgy, choral and cantor techniques and children’s spirituality.

6-25  Mercy in the City 

We are called to lives that incorporate prayer and service, and sometimes that means early mornings, late nights or long hours. America magazine’s Managing Editor Kerry Weber discusses her efforts to participate fully in city life and in the life of the Church – while still maintaining her sanity. Drawing upon her new book, “Mercy in the City,” she will offer her thoughts on how she tries to balance breadlines and deadlines and describe how she finds a moment’s rest in the city that never sleeps.

Kerry Weber

Kerry Weber, Managing Editor at America magazine, is a graduate of Providence College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She also has worked as an editor for Catholic Digest and as a special-education teacher on the Navajo Nation. Weber has presented at numerous parishes, colleges and catechetical conferences. Her book is titled “Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job.”

6-26  Building Children’s Courage 

Char Wenc, MEd (bio 1-26)

Do you feel exhausted from dealing with your children all day? Do you worry if you are parenting correctly? Do you often ask yourself, “Now what do I do?!” Are your children the only ones having fun in your house? If you answered yes to any of these questions, come to hear internationally recognized speaker and author Char Wenc. Char teaches parenting skills that make a difference in how children and parents live together. She shares her knowledge and experience with humor and realism. Her passion for the topic of parenting is found in her style and content.

6-27  Black Spirituality – We are Marching in the Light of God 

Historically, black spirituality has provided a means for the community to celebrate and praise God, work toward justice for all peoples, and remind the community that all are welcome at the table of the Lord. One must understand the spirituality of a people to best minister to the community. This spirituality, which is experienced and dwells down in the souls of black people, has been instrumental in helping the community fight for justice together. This workshop will use various sources of black religious expression to immerse those participants in a dynamic experience of black spirituality as lived today.

Dr. C. Vanessa White

Dr. Vanessa White is an experienced workshop presenter, retreat facilitator, spiritual director and teacher who lectures nationally. She is currently Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Ministry/Director of the Certificate in Pastoral Studies as well as Director of the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She is on the faculty and Coordinator of Elders Retreat at Xavier University of Louisiana’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies, and also on the adjunct faculty at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

6-70  Mẹ Maria, Gương Giảng Viên Giáo Lý Hoàn Hảo 

Cha Hy K. Nguyên, SS (buhay 1-70)

Mẹ Maria, Theotokos (Đấng Cưu Mang Thiên Chúa), là một mẫu gương giảng viên giáo lý hoàn hảo. Mẹ truyền dạy chân lý cho người khác cách rõ nhất bằng chính việc làm và lời nói của Mẹ. Mẹ thật là mẫu gương hoàn hảo cho mọi giảng viên giáo lý (xem GLCG 2030). Buổi hội thảo giúp chúng ta bắt chước gương Mẹ trong ơn gọi và mục vụ làm giảng viên giáo lý, không chỉ trong những gì ta nói mà trong tất cả những gì ta trao đổi với người khác.

     Mary, the Perfect Model Catechist 

Fr. Hy K. Nguyen, SS (bio 1-70)

Mary, Theotokos (God bearer), is the perfect model catechist because of who and what she is. If a catechist is one who instructs others in the true faith, then Mary is the perfect catechist who communicates truths to others most clearly by her words and actions. Indeed, she is the perfect model for what every catechist should be (cf. CCC 2030). The workshop helps us to imitate Mary in our call and ministry as catechists, not only in what is said but also in all that is communicated.


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