Santa Rosa Religious Education Congress – August 17 & 18, 2018


Cardinal Newman High School

The focus of the Congress this year family holiness. The Friday session was for catholic school teachers, religious educators and deacons of the diocese. The Saturday session was a general audience session.


The morning session started with mass said by Bishop Robert Vassa, with the St. Eugene’s Choir singing. With the heavy burden of the recent priest scandal, Bishop Vasa started the morning with a statement. Rather than paraphrasing him, his thoughts can be found on the diocesan website.

The Bishop pointed out the error in the understanding the scripture “wherever two or three are gathered…” to imply some sort of inherent virtue in mere gathering. He stressed we must remember “IN MY NAME” and that in our gossip, in our daily communications and our thoughts, we must struggle to be Christ-like. Bishop Vasa then encouraged educators to not only teach knowledge but to somehow give students an experience of Christ.

Deacon Dennis Purificacion, Diocesan Director of Religious Education, then spoke about the good news that there has been a three fold increase in certification among the Diocesan Catholic School teachers. He assured the audience that each school has a director of religious education in communication with his office. He also told us there will be a special Day of Prayer on October 7th, remembering the victims of the fires last fall. He proceeded to introduce the first speaker of the day, in a general session.

As we arrived in the morning we were greeted with the gorgeous singing by St. Eugene’s Choir practicing for the mass. In this video you see the offerings from St. Eugene’s Workshop, The Passion Play from Lake County booth and a wonderful religious gift business from Sacramento who raised money to send 6 youths to World Youth Day.

The general session was lead by Mark Brumley, M.A., President of St. Ignatius Press and author of The Seven Deadly Sins of Apologetics. A convert to Catholicism from the Evangelical tradition, he spoke of his faith journey and understanding of Catholic devotion to Mary. He stressed the importance of students receiving thorough training in apologetics so they can answer challenges to their faith from others as well as in their own minds. Then we split into the following sessions:

  • Deacon Dance Farrell, for Secondary Level “Virtues: A Language for Sharing Human Dignity with High School Students.”
  • Marie Mullen, for Elementary: “The Virtues in Practice Session.”
  • Lou Judd, for Coaches and Open for all: “The Four Pillars of Sports Leader: Virtue, Mentoring, Ceremony and Catholic Identity and How This Program Can Transform the Culture of Sports.”
  • Carlin and Deacon Dave Gould, “Human Love According to the Divine Plan.”
  • Fr. John Boettcher, S.T.D., “A Biblical Spirituality for Parish Catechetical Leaders and Catechists.”

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Vendor booths were in the gym and therefore blessed to hear Marie Mullen’s presentation of “The Virtues in Practice” program developed by Nashville Dominican Sisters for a whole school or whole family focus, covering 27 virtues over a 3 year cycle and 81 saints held up; as models of virtues. This is a wonderful program with strong methods for blending virtue into play and study experiences for children of all ages. Children are taught a code of ethics and to be observant of their own behavior and others, always remembering to bring virtue into daily situations. Much love and thoughtfulness is in this program and is an affordable, practical way to imbue Catholic values into a school or home setting.




Thank you to all the people involved in organizing the Congress. It was a wonderful experience and a true blessing to be with the devoted people in our diocese, meeting the staff from the diocese and schools, and learning about their needs.

California Marketing Director for EWTN, Monica Marin flew up from Orange County to attend. Monica will be having a webinar to discuss how teachers, home schoolers and parents can utilize EWTN as a resource.