Registrations are pouring in from around the globe for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress at the Anaheim Convention Center Feb. 21-24, the largest annual international gathering of its kind.Commenting on this year’s theme of “Enter the Mystery,” Religious Sister of Charity Edith Prendergast, director of the archdiocesan Office of Religious Education, noted that there are many angles to mystery, with one of those angles being the mystery of suffering. “I think we need this Congress this year more than ever, because when we go through dark times in the church and in the world, we need a community around us to remind us that we are the Body of Christ, and that Christ is at the center of all that we are and all that we do,” said Sister Prendergast. “We need that kind of support, presence, healing and compassion” during the difficult times.This Year of Faith, she added, calls believers to go forth and make disciples of all nations, evangelizing by sharing the fullness of the Gospel story and tradition that involves rituals and symbols, stories and Scripture. “More than ever, people are hungry for meaning and spirituality,” said Sister Prendergast. “I hope that the workshops at Congress will be that source of calming for people, a source of hope for them and also a source of challenge to make a difference in the world.”Highlighting ways to make a difference, Saturday morning keynote speaker, Mark Shriver, head of Save the Children’s U.S. Programs, will share his father’s example to glean insights about achieving “Faith, Hope and Love in Action.” He will reveal lessons he learned in writing his New York Times best-selling memoir, “A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver,” who created the Peace Corps and expanded the Special Olympics internationally while faithfully attending Mass on a daily basis during his life.In her Sunday morning address, Dominican Sister Maureen Sullivan, will focus on the theme of Congress with her talk on “The Church as Mystery: Reflecting on the Presence of God in Our Midst.” Luis M. Benavides, Congress’ Sunday morning Spanish keynote speaker from Argentina, will speak on “The Lord Is My Shepherd, There is Nothing I Shall Want!”Among many new speakers presenting at Congress 2013 will be Father Jonathan Morris, frequent CNN guest commentator and program director for SiriusXM’s “Catholic Channel;” Tracy Webb, a senior trial attorney in charge of the Cyber Crime and Child Abuse Prosecution Division of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office; and Anthony Preston, creator and executive producer of the ELEV8 Teen Integrity Program. In addition to 310 workshops in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, Congress again offers a variety of liturgical experiences. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle from Manila will preside at the Filipino Mass (Saturday 5:15 p.m.), and Archbishop José Gomez will preside at several Congress Masses, including Youth Day on Thursday, “Misa del Pueblo” (5:15 p.m. Friday) and the closing liturgy (3:30 p.m. Sunday).New programs and special events taking place this year include a parish life director all-day Friday track; a workshop on “Welcoming and Valuing People with Mental Illness” in parishes; and “A Rabbi and a Priest Explore a Spiritual Connection through Film,” a workshop with Jesuit Father Ron Schmidt and Rabbi Michael Berenbaum, who will use the award-winning documentary, “The Labyrinth” to discuss ways to enter into substantial Jewish/Catholic dialogue.Entertainment opportunities include Liam Lawton & Friends in “Ireland: Land of Music, Poetry, Dance” (Friday night); “Celebrating the Great Mystery with Mariachi,” featuring Anna Betancourt, Donna Pena and Pedro Rubalcava (Saturday evening); and a young adult dance (Saturday, 9 p.m.-midnight at the Marriott). A new Congress APP will be available for smart phone users to download, providing descriptions and locations of workshops. On-site registration will be available at Congress, beginning at 7:30 a.m. Congress’ opening rite and welcome will be held in the arena at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 22.For more information, visit To view a live webcast of Congress, visit starting Feb. 21.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0215/congress/{/gallery}