"Real love reveals itself in what we do, what we sacrifice, what we create for the real persons whom we love. So we know we are loved not by feelings of attraction, but by the many, many things that others do for us and we do for them,” pointed out Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark during the opening of the Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) Regional Congress on Oct. 25.
His words to the gathering of catechists, directors of religious education and other religious education workers and volunteers who filled St. Mary’s Academy gym reflected the theme for 2014: “Love Fully Revealed!”
But who are those persons? the bishop wondered aloud.
“As Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ we do these things because we are motivated by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “Because of this, we are blessed to see and to experience the love of God in heaven in the love of his people and in your ministry, which is God’s gift to us. Love reveals itself in action.”
The last of the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s five regional congresses for this year featured a liturgy celebrated by Bishop Clark together with a half-dozen other priests and deacons. The congress also included morning praise, videos, live music and singing, inspirational talks and workshops in English and Spanish, ranging from “Catechesis According to CNN, QVC, Stephen Colbert…and St. Augustine” to “Las 5 Necesidades Vitales de Los Ni√±os.”
In addition, four former and current catechists were honored for their dedication and service: Carmen Martin of St. Timothy Parish, Evelyn Moreira of St. Agnes Parish, Angelina Cruz of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish (all in Los Angeles) and Monique Nestico of St. Augustine Parish in Culver City. Each received a colorful bouquet in an angularly designed glass vase.
Sister Edith Prendergast, director of the Office of Religious Education, was also recognized and cheered for her 27 years in the ministry. The Religious Sister of Charity is retiring after the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress this coming spring.
“I’m leaving with a lot of gratitude in my heart,” she said. “I’ve had great years working with great bishops in all the five regions, and with Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Gomez. Each one in his own different way and different style has been very supportive.
“Because sometimes I can color outside the bounds, and that’s OK,” she added with an impish Irish grin. “It’s stressed us all a little. But it’s been a wonderful experience for me.”
The Virgin of Guadalupe image, known as “La Peregrina,” was presented to members of St. Mark Parish in Venice, where it will reside for a year.
During morning praise, Bill Huebsch, executive director of PastoralPlanning.com, addressed the congress-goers. He told them that as members of parishes each really belonged to their own religious community of sisters and brothers, an idea the Pope has been stressing.
“Pope Francis wants us to be ‘obedient,’ and obedience means to listen,” he explained. “He wants us to listen to people, to our own hearts, to the situations of the world and then respond as the hands and feet of Christ.
“So, in a way, this call to listen to people and respond is also the pathway to the fullness of God. This means we have to sweep off our welcome mat, especially for those who do not know the church loves them. We must get out of our sacristies, as Pope Francis said, and into the street. We must love without judgment.