Seeing “20/20 Through God’s Eyes.”

A group photo before heading to Los Angeles

That was the theme at this year’s Religious Education Congress, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Office of Religious Education. It is the nation’s largest annual gathering of Catholics and once again Viatorians — accompanying teens from the Las Vegas area — were there.

This was the 19th time Associate Rosy Hartz brought teens to the congress, in her role as youth ministry director at St. Viator Catholic Community. Together with Associate Brian Barrett, Br. John Eustice, CSV, and Fr. Bill Haesaert, CSV, they formed a Las Vegas delegation and joined the more than 12,000 young people inside the Anaheim Convention Center.

The excitement was palpable at the start as teens began chanting various Jesus cheers, before Archbishop Jose Gomez, of the Los Angeles Diocese, celebrated Mass. Music was a key component of the experience and it was all performed by teens.

“The liturgical music was engaging and all the youth got to see a larger scope of the young church gathered in one space,” Br. Eustice said. “This is the church they are a part of! Today was proof that church is relevant to youth, if youth are actively engaged in making the liturgy happen.”

Associate Rosy Hartz, Br. John Eustice, Associate Brian Barrett and Fr. Bill Haesaert

After Mass, teens had a chance to attend different breakout sessions led by dynamic speakers.

“Giving these teens a positive and quite large experience of our tradition — when they are in the midst of profound growth — will hopefully plant a seed,” Br. Eustice added, “for their spirituality and relationship with the church to strengthen and grow.”

For her part, Hartz came away once again feeling blessed from the experience: “Thank you, Youth Day,” she said. “Thank you, Viator teens! Headed home with better vision.”