February 16, 2001
is only steps away. Skies are clear. And school is in session. So why were
12,000 teenagers from all over the state cooped up Thursday at the Anaheim
were talking about how to be nicer to their parents. Honest.
were discussing how to pick out music that is tasteful. Honest.
were learning how to get more out of Bible scriptures, and they were
loving it. Honest.
was youth day at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, sponsored
by the Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles and led by lay ministers, priests
and others who teach in church and Catholic schools.
"I really like it. You
learn how to make smart decisions in your life," said Ezequiel Adame,
17, of Hesperia, who had just attended a workshop on how to keep your
sanity and your sanctity in high school. His youth group from Holy Family
Church in Hesperia rented a bus for the trip.
amazing how many kids want to be involved with God and church if they have
a chance," said chaperon Lou DeJesus, leading the group toward the
arena where Cardinal Roger Mahony celebrated Mass.
day, running through Sunday, has vaulted some speakers to almost rock-star
status among the regulars who attend every year.
Bob groupies," explained Nicholas Thomson, 18, of Sacramento
"Last year he talked about sexuality. He has fantastic
is Bob Bartlett, a white-haired family therapist from Moundsview, Minn.,
who is partial to button-down, blue-checked, flannel shirts. This year
Bob, who has three kids of his own, was heading up a workshop called
"The Exotic, Exciting, Bizarre, Complex World of Parents."
the program, he worried that only 30 or 40 kids would show.
all, it is about parents,"
Bartlett said, with that little sarcastic lilt that 15-year-olds master so
well. He had competition down the hall in other workshops -- a juggler, a
rapper and someone talking about sex.
needn't have worried. Bob drew nearly 400 teens. He took the microphone
off the podium and waded into the audience, asking their thoughts. Most
thought their parents were pretty cool, though they needed to chill out a
told funny and touching stories about the youths he has counseled over the
there was one girl he couldn't reach, he said. A girl on drugs who
couldn't understand why her parents were worried. She ended up dead in the
backseat of a car in a Minnesota cornfield.
families are "crazy," he told the kids. And that's OK if it's
good craziness such as arguing and relating, and not the abusively crazy.
after all, is mountains, not the flatlands of South Dakota," he said.
have to break through parents' resistance sometimes, he said. "In my
house, if I had brought up sex, someone would have died at the breakfast
was the big lesson of the workshop. Tell the truth and your parents will
trust you. Learn how to say I'm sorry.
Culler, 16, of Sacramento said the workshop inspired him to try
communicating more with his parents. "I'll try to talk to them more
and about this whole party thing and stuff."
classes will run through Sunday. Tickets for the three-day conference are
$60. Check with the congress office about availability. For information,
contact the Religious Education Congress at (213) 637-7346 or
Copyright 2001 Orange County Register -- February 16, 2001