by Fr. Timothy Armbruster, C.PP.S., Vocation Director
Our Alleluia’s could be heard throughout the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA.  This year’s Los Angeles Religious Education Conference, held Feb 24-26, was for a change ahead of Lent.  It was truly a celebration to be able to sing our praises to God.  This was my first time attending and what a joy it was!  I took the opportunity to attend some great workshops and reconnect with a couple profs from CTU, namely Fr. Ed Foley and Sr. Barbara Reid.  Fr. Ed in two different workshops covered Prophetic Preaching and in the other Adoration.  Sr. Barbara presented a workshop focused on reading scripture through the mind, eyes and heart of a women.  Both were classes of the past, but was great to hear again.
The main liturgies in the arena were truly a celebration.  Each one focused on different issues facing the church today, namely Immigration and Refuges and care of the earth, among other things.  The final liturgy on Sunday brought everything together as the celebration began with the Entrance welcoming everyone.  As the procession began, the liturgical dancers moved with grace and beauty with white flowing dress and bright spring colors.  The deacons joined the procession hand in hand with their wives.  The book of the Gospel was proudly displayed as the living word of God.  The whole event was alive with spirit and energy.  At the preparation of the gifts, the altar was dressed with long flowing cloths of native colors.  A white square cloth was placed atop the colors and the large baskets of bread and jugs of wine were carried in by men and women dressed in native colors and dress.  It was bringing forth the gifts of the community.
The Congress began with Youth Day on Thursday, Feb 23.  The theme of Youth Day was What Are You Waiting For?  The theme of the Congress was Embrace Trust.  Archbishop José Gomez welcomed us at the Opening Ceremony and tied the two themes together with the challenge of “What are you waiting for? Embrace Trust!” Now Go! He also left us with the question, “What is holding you back?” As we now begin this season of Lent and put away the Alleluias for a time, what is holding us back?  The energy and spirit of the weekend is what I needed to kick start this Lent and refocus again on mission and ministry.