LMU will be one of the primary sponsors of the four-day Religious Education Congress hosted by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles that kicks off Feb. 15 and concludes Feb. 18 at the Anaheim Convention Center. The sponsorship, a partnership between LMU Marketing, Communications, and External Relations and LMU Mission and Ministry, is part of LMU’s comprehensive Ignite a Brighter World campaign. The theme of youth day is “Your Path Awaits,” and the theme adult days are “Be Loved.”
More than 14,000 Catholics and those seeking to enrich their spiritual life are expected for the jam-packed three days in which nationally and internationally known Catholic speakers will discuss many current topics. Religious Education Congress is also a unique opportunity to network with dioceses, parishes, and Catholic organizations from a wide geographic area. This year, LMU’s logo will be on the bags, lanyards, and the escalator clings. LMU will also host a booth in the exhibit hall with staff from the Center for Catholic Education, PLACE Corps, the Center for Religion and Spirituality, and Theological Studies.
Chris de Silva, interim associate director of Campus Ministry, was commissioned to write the theme song. “I feel extremely grateful to be invited to write this year’s Congress theme song, and excited because the conference theme (‘Be Loved/Déjate Amar’) is one that issues a challenge to not only celebrate love, especially God’s love in our lives, but to also catch glimpses of God’s love in the world around us,” said de Silva. “I enjoy the wordplay of ‘be loved’ and ‘beloved’ and see this as an opportunity to sing about acceptance, inclusion, and how we might come together as a diverse and beloved community – to know that we are loved by God just as we are.”
The creative process for de Silva was influenced by St. Ignatius’ call for cura personalis. “I hope that this piece will inspire all (in and outside of faith circles) to think more deeply about what it will take to really build a diverse and inclusive community with particular attention to the welcome of the LGBTQIA2S+ community into faith spaces, and to ask if we are even ready to begin this kind of work,” said de Silva. “How might trust shape our bridge-building efforts? How might we look through our own clichéd narratives of love and welcome towards creating fully authentic and belonging spaces? Indeed, it takes some work and a lot of patience to catch a glimpse of God and God’s love.”
Bob Hurteau, the director of the Center of Religion and Spirituality first attended Congress when he was a child in the 1970s and has been managing LMU’s booth presence since 2005. “Congress is a place where people who love Christ and the Church’s mission come together, so, under all the hubbub, God is usually doing extraordinary things in simple and ordinary ways. It’s fun to watch it happen and to be part of making it happen as part of LMU,” said Hurteau.
The Congress Film Showcase on Friday night, hosted by the CSJ Center for Reconciliation and Justice and the Center for Religion and Spirituality, offers a window into media resources that can enhance parish and other religious education programs.
Invitations to an LMU-hosted wine and cheese reception on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m. will be available at the university’s exhibit booth.