Next year’s Religious Education Congress will be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced this week.

“COVID-19 has changed many of the traditional ways of gathering,” said Sister Rosalia Meza, senior director of the archdiocese’s office of religious education in a June 29 letter. “After consultation, prayer, and discernment, we [the RE Congress team and Archbishop José H. Gomez] came to the decision that the Religious Education Congress 2021 will be a virtual event….”

In an interview with Angelus, Sister Meza said that safety concerns about planning such a potentially large gathering of people amid uncertainty about the pandemic’s future course factored heavily in the decision. But organizers also took into account the grim financial reality that many of Congress’s regular participants are already facing.

“Many of the people that attend Congress are ministers, people from parishes, and a lot of those are losing or have already lost their jobs,” Meza said. “We care about the people, and we have to be very mindful on different levels….

Planning for the event is still in the early stages, but Sr. Meza said that her office’s tech partners estimate a virtual Congress held via Zoom could host some 50,000 online participants.

While the change is an unwelcome one for all involved, Sr. Meza hopes it can help her team to think more seriously about how to attract younger generations of Catholics in the long run….

The above comes from a July 1 story in Angelus News.