The 40,000-plus who came to the Religious Education Congress March 14-16 offered comments on a variety of topics — from the workshops they attended to the faith they practice and proclaim. A sampling of their reflections (more online):
Don Carlos, St. Pancratius Church, Lakewood (on Rev. Jim Wallis’ “Revolutionary Hope,” March 14)
“The more I listened to Jim Wallis, the more that word ‘engagement’ is what entered my mind. And all I could think of is that we are a very entertainment-centered culture, and I’m kind of entertainment-centered in many ways myself. But ‘engagement’ — that is the only choice that we can make as Christians. We have to be engaged in the world: ‘I was hungry, and you gave me to eat.’ You didn’t sit there and watch a movie about hunger; you did something about it.
“Jim has really done, you know, wonderful work over the years, and I also met Dorothy Day once. The one thing she wasn’t was cynical; and very much engaged, and engaging.”
Martin Segura, Holy Family Church, South Pasadena (on Christopher Kaczor’s “What Children Give to Parents,” March 16):
“I will use a lot of what Dr. Kaczor said today because I’m a counselor at a middle school and parents come to me all the time talking about their struggles with their children. Many of them say, ‘I just hate my kids.’ I would never say that about my children, but what I learned here today I can use when I talk with them about their problems. I will keep telling them that this is a blessing and I will tell them how my wife and I came closer to each other because of our children [especially since we have a special-needs child]. How their children can make you a better person — and so much better listeners!”
Sarah Hamor, St. Clare Church, Santa Clarita, with husband William and one of their three children; on Kaczor):
“I like the idea that children can help us parents get into heaven. What we do for them is following Jesus by doing what Jesus did for us. I have never thought of being a parent his way. It’s a whole new perspective.”
Lydia Workman, of St. Joseph Cathedral, San Diego (on Kaczor):
“My husband and I have always thought about the things children would take away from our marriage [they are childless but considering a family], but now I see how a child would make us better. I hear from my best friend who has two very young children how she just wishes she could take a shower or do something normal. That scares me. I’m not sure I’m ready for that. But now I see how a child can help me and my husband.
Rachel Pineda, El Paso, Texas (on Greer Gordon’s workshop: “Temptation, Suffering and Forgiveness,” March 14):
“I believe what Dr. Gordon had to say about the sin of ‘resentment’ is very real. Because I think we rationalize and think we deserve better. I think it takes humility to be able to recognize that we all are here as ‘guests.’ I believe that. I believe that we’re here on this planet as ‘guests.’ And I believe we should be grateful for that, and that there’s a mystery in it.”
R.W. Dellinger and Brenda Rees contributed to this story.