Saturday, March 03, 2007

Live from Disneyland: The Church in Congress

You might be at your computer right now, but just across the street from Disneyland somewhere around 40,000 of the faithful have gathered for the archdiocese of Los Angeles' Religious Education Congress, which runs through tomorrow.

American Catholicism's largest annual gathering, the four-day Magisterium-fest kicked off with Thursday's Youth Day, for which a sold-out arena of 10,000 young people took part in a full plate of liturgies and workshops. Among its headliners was Tony Melendez, the local guitarist and speaker who's moved hundreds of thousands over two decades of appearances the world over, most memorably getting John Paul II to jump off a stage and run across an arena to embrace him when the late Great visited LA in 1987.

Cardinal Roger Mahony marked the first day of his mega-watt weekend by participating in a chat with local schoolkids yesterday; another cyber-confab with the wider audience is usually in the offing sometime later in the weekend. Speakers range from liturgy war uber-piƱata Marty Haugen to a veritable flock of shepherds, including Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and Bishop Jaime Soto, the rising-star auxiliary of Orange (soon to be coadjutor of one or another Californian diocese that begins with the letter "S" -- stay tuned).

And just in case that wasn't enough healing balm for your spirit, continuing his blitz of love and joy for a church starved of both is the currently non-caramelized Jim Martin, SJ, who'll be offering his ode before a crowd of 1,700.

Just makes ya wanna be there, doesn't it? Regrettably, I was invited too late to fit it in -- but "next year in Jerusalem," as they say... or, rather, Anaheim.

In the meantime, hope you're all having fun.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles