“I hope you were good today, because it went all over the world — whatever you did, it was broadcast,” said San Fernando Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson to a laughing congregation at the beginning of the San Fernando Religious Education Congress’ closing Mass Sept. 17.Under swooping overhead streamers on a stage with a sunflower-decorated altar in Bishop Alemany High School’s gym in Mission Hills, the bishop began the liturgy by noting that 1,000 people from such far-away places as Singapore and the Philippines watched morning praise celebrations, core workshops including “The New Translation of the Roman Missal,” and the closing liturgy via live streaming over the Internet.The first-time live streaming for the San Fernando Regional Congress nearly doubled the number of 1,200 people attending in person: catechists, elementary/high school teachers, workshop presenters, students and volunteers assembled for the 2011 event centered on the theme, “Embrace God’s Call To Generosity.”In his homily touching on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time’s Gospel of workers in the vineyard, Bishop Wilkerson reflected on God’s generosity in paying the last worker the same as the first.“We have an unbelievable generous God whose ways are not our ways,” said the bishop. “He rewards us for our efforts with a full day’s wage, but he calls us to be as generous with others as he is with us.”He noted that Pope Paul VI once said that modern people listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and that, if teachers do receive attention, it is because they are witnesses.“It is important for us to be knowledgeable, to understand certain psychological and pedagogical principles in order to be a good teacher,” Bishop Wilkerson said. “But it is even more important to be a good witness to Jesus Christ, to have a disciple’s spirituality, to be in an ongoing conversion to Jesus Christ, the living word of God, a conversion that turns you inside out and sets you on fire with love for God and all others, even the last, the littlest and the least.“As we become witnesses of God’s love,” he continued, “other people [including] our students come to know that super-abundant, incredible love of God because they see it in us. All of you have answered the call to work in the vineyard. Many of you have labored long and hard; you have borne the burden of the day’s heat. “You came here today to renew your spirit, to deepen your knowledge, to better become the living Gospel for all people to hear. Those you teach will surely listen to you because you are living witnesses to the abundant and overflowing love of Jesus Christ for each and every person.” The live-streamed concelebrated liturgy, featuring music by the San Fernando Regional Choir and band directed by Mary Janus, was the conclusion of the all-day event, which started in the gym with morning praise and liturgy. Participants attended up to three workshops among the 41 offered in English and 42 in Spanish.Live-streamed workshops held in the gym included “It Is Right And Just: We Lift Up Our Hearts Anew” on the new texts of the Mass by Father Christopher Bazyouros, pastor of St. Albert the Great; “The Same Mass Yesterday, Today & Forever,” a dramatic presentation by singer/composer ValLimar Jansen; and “Eucharist: At the Heart Of Our Life,” exploring the language of ritual and sacrament with Father David Loftus, administrator at Our Lady of Lourdes in Northridge.Douglas Leal, coordinator of young adult ministry in the Office of Religious Education, in his workshop “God Is My Co-Worker,” presented a Catholic “spirituality of work” centered around recognizing that human work is a continuation of the creative process of God.Although many people feel disconnected from God at their jobs in a culture which says work is not where life happens, Leal said the church has a long history of supporting the dignity and value of work. He pointed out that documents from Vatican II say that work is a way of self-development, “and this kind of growth is of greater value than any external riches which can be garnered.” In 1981, Pope John Paul II in his encyclical “Laborem Exercens,” wrote, “Man, created in the image of God, shares by his work in the activity of the creator and, within the limits of his own human capabilities, continues to develop that activity, and perfects it as he advances further and further in the discovery of the resources and values continued in the whole of creation.”“As ministers, it’s our responsibility to help people make connections between faith and work,” said Leal. In a parish setting, he pointed out, this might include offering programs or resources for workers such as job search assistance, strengths assessment workshops, business networking/referrals and recognizing/celebrating achievements in work.Master catechist Lynn Lang, former San Fernando religious education regional coordinator who traveled from Texas to present a workshop on looking at leadership through the lens of scripture, church and faith, said her multi-media workshop combining Bible passages, contemporary and spiritual music and DVDs was designed to help participants coalesce their thoughts on effective leadership.“This [LA congress] is full of life and lots of fun,” said Lang.Margaret Sardo, religious education coordinator for the San Fernando Region, lauded the congress’ “firsts” this year. “The highlights were getting 1,000 people online, moving into the new space [in the gym], the use of the space and the gathering of people in this bigger space and just celebrating together,” said Sardo.Choir member Louie Ansaldo, a parishioner at St. Joseph the Worker in Winnetka and a music ministry member at Our Lady of Peace, commented: “I always believe whether we sing a different song or we change the lyrics that God understands us. It’s a good thing that we get together as a community.”“I’ve been to several of these,” said Flo Coffey, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes’ liturgy committee, “and I was very impressed with the presentation — everything.”In his closing remarks, Bishop Wilkerson praised the attendees. “You are so important to our region, to our parishes, to our people. Thank you for being here today and thank you for the gifts that you give, day after day after day. Your super-abundant and incredible love is just amazing, and we are most, most grateful.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/1007/sfcongress/{/gallery}