Unpacking #RECongress Part One: Getting There

Unpacking #RECongress Part One: Getting There March 18, 2014
Pope Francis photobombs us in the Speaker’s Lounge!

Welcome back to the blog after a few days of radio silence. I’ve finally unbuzzed, unblistered, and unhyped enough from my five day jaunt to Southern California to begin to share a bit of my experience at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Religious Education Congress with you. I thought it would be fun this week to sort of “unpack” the event with you.

This is my fifth year to attend Congress. Every year before I go, I forget the insanity of those days in Anaheim. It’s sort of like childbirth — you remember the best parts, the joy and total fulfillment, and block the pain so that you’re brave enough to face it in the future. Don’t be mistaken here – I’m not in any way “dissing” LA Congress. Quite the opposite. Of the many places I am blessed to travel each year, worshipping, learning and playing with 40,000 of the coolest Catholics on the planet is among my favorite destinations.

But getting there seems to increasingly involve pain. And stress. And soul-searching, mind-blowing self questioning.

I’m blogging this now, so that next year if I’m lucky enough to head back to Anaheim I’ll come back, read this, and understand why I feel like such a nut-job the week before I head South.

This year was a new experience for me. Even though the hotel, the weather, the convention center and many other elements were similar, the overall experience was vastly different.


Windshield broken, Mini and driver intact.

Because I had the company of an amazing friend on the journey.

This year, I was invited to speak in a duo, with my friend and fellow CatholicMom.com contributor Sarah Reinhard. Little did Sarah know when she signed on for this assignment that she would have to do some serious therapy, hand-holding and perhaps even an exorcism along the path to Anaheim. I’m sure she just thought she’d have to help my train-wreck of a brain pull together two powerpoint decks in a timely fashion.

I’ll spare you the cavalcade of craziness that occurred in the weeks leading up to our trip. Suffice it to say that not only did we have website failures (the great CatholicMom.com crashyness of 2014), roof calamities and even not one, but two rocks crashing into my windshield, but we also had to deal with Lisa’s brain which was seriously under attack from he-who-shall-remain-nameless.

Fast forward to the end of the story and I’m happy to say that not only did we get there, but I do believe we emerged from the other side fully blessed. It may not have all been pretty or perfect, but it was pretty darn awesome.

Limited edition “CatholicMom.com Flasks” courtesy of Sarah Reinhard. You know you want one!

So before I say anything else this week about LA Congress, I want to start with a thank you to Sarah. She helped me to see so many things this past weekend with new eyes. Showing her my favorite beach helped me to see it as if for the first time. Watching her love her children via Skype made me miss mine and give thanks to God for the gift of motherhood. Sharing a podium with her helped me in ways she will never understand. Praying alongside her was a balm for my soul.

I pray that the talks we gave at Congress were and will continue to be a blessing for those we spent the time with. I can say without a doubt that they definitely were for me.

Thank you Sarah – you’re a gift!

  • Stay tuned this week for more memories, lessons and hashtaggy fun from #RECongress
  • Check out some of our Congress photos here and here
  • View the RE Congress livestream videos here
  • Check out the #RECongress hashtag on Twitter here


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Um, wow. I’m a little teary after reading that. Who is this Sarah Reinhard and how do I meet her??? 🙂 But seriously, Lisa, you are a blessing and the whole experience would’ve been far less without my fearless Lisa-san. 🙂

    • lisahendey

      You would have just had numerous solo-steak-new-evangelization opportunities…

  • Sue

    Aw Lisa, I’m getting teary eyed for Sarah. It sounds like the two of you had a blast (liked the Pope Francis photo bomb pic!). Any event that had the smarts to have the combined talent, humor and gregarious Lisa and Sarah speak had to be an AWESOME event! The two of you are such special and gifted women!

    • lisahendey

      Thank you Sue – so sweet.

  • Lisa Martinez

    You did it, and I’m sure killed it (wish I could’ve been there to see it this year), and lived to write about it, ha ha ha!! LOVE the special edition flasks. (Do I smell a CatholicMom.com eStore…cough, sorry, I can’t help myself!). You both are some seriously talented Spiritual Warriors – true gifts. H/T

    • lisahendey

      Too funny – next year we’ll all be there. And we killed something, just not sure what…

  • Maria


    I want a flask.

    • lisahendey


  • Mark S.

    Yes, I want one. There, I admitted it. 🙂 I know a bunch of Catholic moms who would be dlighted to carry their…um….iced tea in one.