Pope Francis will speak to participants at this year’s Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (REC), taking place virtually Feb. 18-21, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced Tuesday.  

The pope’s video message will be delivered at the event’s opening ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 18.

“It is a great blessing that the Holy Father will address our gathering, especially this year as so many are facing challenging times,” said Sister Rosalia Meza, senior director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Religious Education, which organizes REC. 

“Congress, be it virtual this year, is a time of encounter, a time to gather to celebrate and grow in our faith, bringing us closer to Christ and God’s loving mercy, but most importantly to take what we learn during these three days and take it back to our communities.”

This year’s REC will include many familiar attractions including concerts, art exhibits, workshops, and even an exhibit hall presented in a virtual format.

Keynote speakers at this year’s 65th Congress include Auxiliary Bishop Fernand J. Cheri of New Orleans, youth speaker Katie Prejean McGrady, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, and Sister Carol Zinn, executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). 

Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, and Fr. Greg Boyle, founder of LA-based Homeboy Industries, are among the names headlining virtual workshops for the event. 

Archbishop José H. Gomez will celebrate the event’s closing liturgy on Sunday, Feb. 21. 

To register or for more information, visit recongress.org