By David Loftus
EDITH PRENDERGAST, R.S.C., D.Min. (1940 - ), a Religious Sister of Charity, was born in Ireland to Catherine and Richard Prendergast. She entered religious life as a Religious Sister of Charity in February 1959, and received her initial formal training as an educator at University of London’s Institute of Education. She subsequently undertook studies at Boston College (MA Theology) and Claremont School of Theology (D.Min). She served as the Director of the Office of Religious Education at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 1987, a position she currently holds. It is in this capacity that Edith directs the Religious Education Congress, which gathers almost 40,000 participants annually.
Edith Prendergast was born Catherine (Kathleen) Prendergast in Moneyvroe, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, to Catherine and Richard Prendergast. She was the fifth of six children to be raised on the family farm in the townland of Affane in the western area of the county. It was in this rural setting that Edith learned that care for those less fortunate was a basic human value that defines who we are in the world before one another and before God. Her father, Richard, was a man who often invited travelers and neighbors, strangers and friends, to join the family at table for a meal. Need was met with Richard’s quiet graciousness, and this ever-present generosity toward those less fortunate shaped Edith as she eventually grew to discern a vocation to religious life.
Edith’s primary-level education took place at St. John the Baptist primary school in Affane, from which she graduated and entered secondary school at the Presentation Convent School in Lismore, Waterford. Following her graduation from Secondary School (High School), she sat for state examinations in which she successfully secured employment as a civil servant in the governmental Department of Agriculture. Within a year, however, the strong faith environment and outreach to the needy experienced in her family setting, inspired her to dedicate herself to religious life. Inspired by the story and example of Mother Mary Aikenhead, Edith pursued this vocation with the Religious Sisters of Charity at Milltown, Dublin, entering the convent on February 2, 1959. It was as a novice that the young woman born to Richard and Catherine chose the name Edith in religious life.
The Religious Sisters of Charity were established by Mary Aikenhead in 1815 to address the needs of those people who suffered from poverty, illness or lack of education. Schools, hospitals and orphanages to care for children who were abandoned and/or orphaned were erected and staffed by the religious women who intentionally were not cloistered. This freedom allowed the sisters to visit with the poor and the sick in their homes, as well as allowing for the visiting of those in prison. The motto of the Religious Sisters of Charity, Caritas Christi urget nos – the Love of Christ impels us – is taken from 2Cor 5:14. Following the death of Mary Aikenhead in 1858, the Religious Sisters of Charity continue their work of service in Ireland, England, Scotland, Australia, the United States, Venezuela, Nigeria, Zambia and Malawi. Their apostolates include Education, Healthcare, Counseling & Therapy, Prison Ministry, Counter-Trafficking, Immigrant Support, Pastoral & Social Work, and Spiritual Development.
It was with this group of extraordinary women religious that Edith found a home for the care, the courage, the compassion and the integrity instilled within her in the family home. It was these attributes which were to find expression in her vocation as a Religious Sister of Charity, after the heart of Mother Mary Aikenhead.
Following a three-year novitiate, Edith made her first vows. As a professed sister she was invited by her religious superiors to discern where she might best put her gifts and talents into service. She chose to explore her vocation as an educator. This choice was affirmed by the leadership of her community, and Edith was subsequently offered the opportunity to study at the University of London’s Institute of Education. Here she successfully completed a course of studies leading to her graduation and certification (credential) as a primary teacher. At this time, her course of studies included Education theory, psychology, child development, sociology, principles of education. As a double major, she pursued courses in Divinity and Art. These courses included New Testament, Old Testament, Philosophy and Theology, Art appreciation, literature, language and speech training, and a variety of creative arts experience. In addition, her location in London afforded Edith the opportunity to visit the many art museums, exhibits and galleries including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, the Tate and the many historical architectural gems of the City of London. It was to these days that Edith traces her profound love for art and literature, in which she sees the human spirit yearning to express its deepest longings.
While completing her teaching degree in London, Edith taught in local schools, but a choice to travel to the community’s mission in California was to be transformative in her life. In 1966, Edith first visited California and taught at St. Bridget of Sweden Elementary School in Van Nuys. Subsequently she was assigned to Our Lady of Fatima in San Clemente and St. Cornelius, Long Beach. It was during this time that she volunteered as a catechist for primary and high-school aged learners, in the parochial setting, for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD).
In 1972 Edith was invited by her community leadership to consider further spiritual formation and studies in preparation for a leadership position as Director of Novices. In preparation, Edith made a 30-day retreat under Fr. Peters, S.J., in Auburn California and mentored with the Sisters of Mercy in Burlingame. This experience afforded her an opportunity to become acquainted with processes of spiritual formation. In September 1972, Edith commenced a period of study at the Institute of Religious Formation in St Louis under the direction of Fr. John Futrell, S.J. and Fr. David Fleming, S.J. The object of this program was to train leaders for spiritual formation and to mentor participants as Spiritual Directors. Courses in Faith Development and the History of Religious Life accompanied mentoring in the Art of Spiritual Direction. The Institute concluded with a 30-day retreat in Manresa, Spain, in which participants experienced first-hand, the spiritual gift of St. Ignatius to the Church. She successfully completed the course of studies in 1973.
Upon her return to California, Edith took up the responsibility of Director of Novices for a three-year period. It was an inter-community experience, with sisters from a variety of communities participating. During that time, Edith ministered in the inner-city of Los Angeles and in East Los Angeles. This was part of an immersion experience for the novices. At the conclusion of her term as Novice Director, Edith returned to England and taught for a year at St. Bernard’s Grammar School (High school) in Slough, Middlesex, England. This was Edith’s first real opportunity prepare retreats for high-school level participants, cementing her desire for ongoing work with youth and young adults.
In 1977, Edith returned to the United States, this time to Massachusetts, and Boston College, in pursuit of a Masters Degree in Theology. While in Boston, Edith continued to serve in ministry as a catechist at St. Mary’s in Brookline Village.
At Boston College, Edith studied under Fr. Daniel Harrington, S.J. (Development of Church in the New Testament), Philip King (Prophets, especially Isaiah), Lisa Cahill (Medical Ethics, End-of-Life Issues). Fr. Harvey Egan, S.J. introduced Edith to the teachings of Karl Rahner as well as the Mystics (St. John of the Cross). During this time, Edith met with Karl Rahner himself when he visited the Westin School of Theology in Boston. This personal encounter was one that left a lasting impression on Edith. Tom Groome and Fr. Charlie Healey were also significant influences from this time.
Following her graduation in 1979, Edith returned to California and to a previous home in San Clemente as she discerned her future role in ministry. It was here that she received a call from Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson. Torgerson was a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, serving as the Associate Director at the Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education. He envisioned a program of ministry and spiritual formation tailored intentionally for Youth Ministers, and he wanted someone who could help him realize his vision. Reaching out to Edith, he persuaded her to agree to be interviewed for a new position at the Office of Religious Education. The then director of the Office of Religious Education, Monsignor John Barry, interviewed Edith, and promptly hired her as Youth Ministry Consultant.
In her role as Consultant for Youth Ministry, Edith spent much of her time as mentor and spiritual director to a large number of young men and women preparing for leadership positions in parish youth ministry. They recognized her as the “calm in the midst of our storms” (LA Youth Ministers, 1987). These early years of sharing with others what she had found to be most vital in her own life of ministry – a solid grounding in a relationship with God – were to become hugely formative. Her dedication and commitment to the need for religious educators and catechists to grow and deepen their own relationship with God as disciples of Jesus underpins her every effort and encouragement.
It was while Edith served as Consultant for Youth Ministry that she was appointed the first woman to become an Associate Director at the Office of Religious Education (1983). In 1987, Cardinal Roger Mahony appointed Sr. Edith as the Director of the Office of Religious Education to succeed Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson. In this, she became the first non-ordained person to hold this position.
Edith served as a board member of the National Conference of Diocesan Directors from 1986 to 1991. It was during this timeframe, that the National Conference began to transition to what would eventually become the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. The National Conference of Diocesan Directors for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine had convened in one form or another since the 1930’s (Kramer & Stamschror, 1977). At that time, the work of catechesis within the Catholic Church was largely understood to be the responsibility of the clergy, but as time passed and catechesis developed, that understanding also shifted with the gradual recognition that all the faithful bear responsibility for passing on the fullness of the faith (Parent, 1991). By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the majority of those in leadership in catechetical offices across the country were no longer ordained men. The first meeting of the newly organized National Conference took place in Pasadena, CA (Parent, 1993). It was a meeting in which the board members, including Sr. Edith, together shepherded the transition for the national organization, launching it upon a new trajectory, eventually to become the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership.
As Director for the Office of Religious Education, Sr. Edith is also responsible for the annual Religious Education Congress which, since 1970, has taken place at the Anaheim Convention Center. In 1970, participants numbered about 10,000. In 2013 the number of participants was put at almost 39,000 (http://www.recongress.org/congress.htm). Year on year, this event has grown and developed to become the premier gathering of Roman Catholics engaged in religious education and catechetical ministry in the nation. For fully a quarter of a century, Sr. Edith has guided that development, attributing the growth to the work of the Holy Spirit, enlivening and moving the faithful to be responsible in passing on the faith.
Congress begins each year with Youth Day, a day planned by and for young people. Close to 15,000 young men and women gather for praise, worship, workshops, and fellowship. The format includes a rally, liturgy and youth-friendly workshops. It is designed for 9th through 12th graders, coming from both catholic schools and public schools throughout Southern California and beyond. It takes place annually on the Thursday of Congress weekend.
The Friday morning of Congress weekend sees the arrival of thousands of Catholic adults, primarily from California, but also coming from places as far afield as Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. The gathering of such diverse peoples is reflected in the many liturgies that take place over the course of the three-day weekend, in a variety of languages and reflecting a broad array of cultural experiences. Each year, Sr. Edith addresses the congress delegates at the opening event, in the context of prayerful celebration.
Under her leadership, the RE Congress has developed to the point of providing workshops in multiple languages (English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean) to meet the needs of local catechetical ministers. It has also incorporated a large number of workshops designed for those involved in a broad array of church ministries, beyond the strictly educational and catechetical. Liturgical musicians, those involved in social outreach and justice efforts, those seeking workshops on personal and human development are but some of the groups who are afforded access to some of the leading presenters, nationally and internationally. Theologians, scripture scholars and liturgical musicians rub shoulders in the walkways of the Anaheim Convention Center as delegates choose from among more than 300 learning sessions each year.
As Director of the Office of Religious Education Edith bears primary responsibility for the direction and coordination of the Religious Education Congress. Striving to facilitate a broad range of speakers and topics, Edith quickly ran afoul of critics we found her efforts to be suspect. In her early years as Director, there were calls for her resignation and dismissal, but with the conviction of her values, and with the encouragement of peers and superiors, she continued to develop the Religious Education Congress, attentive always to the developing trends and needs within the catechetical world.
This conviction did little to assuage her critics. Sr. Edith is often the target of vocal pressure groups that would consider her ongoing efforts detrimental to the life and mission of the Church. In 1994 an unusually public dispute arose, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, concerning the orthodoxy of the speakers who were invited to present at that year’s RE Congress. As reported by the LA Times, “A small group of Catholics in Camarillo called the California Coalition of Concerned Catholics charged that the Los Angeles Archdiocese Office of Religious Education, which planned the education congress, has been "in the hands of dissenters." The group’s spokesperson called for the resignation of Sr. Edith and the “complete and immediate reform of the Religious Education Office”. (February 11, 1994. Retrieved at http://articles.latimes.com/1994-02-11/local/me-21686_1_abortion-rights-advocate).
Despite many ongoing efforts to detract from the RE Congress, and the often uncharitable personal attacks on Sr. Edith, she remained steadfast in her dedication to catechesis and religious education. This service of the Church and her mission has been a signal characteristic of Sr. Edith’s passion for evangelization and catechesis throughout her tenure as the Director of the Office of Religious Education, with responsibility for the RE Congress. In the face of many challenges, Sr. Edith stayed the course, and continued to invite the presence and participation of ministerial and catechetical leaders whose insights and vision call believers to continued growth, conversion and transformation as a people of faith and as disciples of Jesus.
It has been said that the RE Congress is the “one place where the left and the right can gather together under one roof” in the US Catholic Church (DJ Florian, former Director of the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis, Diocese of Kalmazoo). Irrespective of one’s admiration or frustration with the contribution of Sr. Edith to the catechetical and ministerial life of the US Church, it is worth nothing that one of US Catholicism’s most well-known and reputable commentators – Rocco Palmo – has referred to her as the [US Catholic] “church's most influential "FBI" (foreign-born-Irish) (Retrieved at http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2011/03/merry-congress.html).
In 2000, Sr. Edith joined the ranks of those graduating from Claremont School of Theology, having successfully completed her studies for a Doctorate in Ministry. The title of her doctoral thesis was Parish Leadership in Transition: Exploring Models of Partnership, Inclusivity, and Collaboration (2000). The work proposes inclusive and effective parish leadership models can be developed by re-imaging the parish through the lens of a Celtic and feminist world-view, and by re-interpreting spirit and power from a feminist perspective. The work was deeply influenced by the works of Elizabeth A. Johnson, Mary Daly, John O’Donohue, Alexander Carmichael, Letty M. Russell, Karl Rahner, Rosemary Radford Ruther, Kay Ashe, Gerard A. Arbuckle and Mary Elizabeth Moore.
Contributions to Christian Education
The Religious Education Congress.
Rocco Palmo’s words may sound hyperbolic, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the influence of the Religious Education Congress within the world of Catechesis and Christian Religious Education. In terms of the field of religious education, the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress has gown to become the greatest showcase both in terms of current thinking and ongoing pastoral initiatives in catechetical education in the United States and beyond.
Apart from the tens of thousands who show up at the Anaheim Convention Center each year, it is worth noting the “who” within those numbers. Long aware of the growing importance of the Hispanic Catholic presence in the Southland, Sr. Edith’s nurturing of the Spanish-speaking faithful was influenced by her home life, her commitment in love to the “other” as a religious, and her own ministerial experiences in East Los Angeles. The continuously growing presence of the Spanish-speaking faithful at the RE Congress has been secured by Sr. Edith’s very deliberate and measured efforts to bring presenters and speakers of excellence from Spain and Latin America as well as from within US borders. These efforts on her part have yielded immeasurable results in terms of leadership and growth with the Spanish-speaking communities of the Catholic Church. Sr. Edith’s endeavors have provided access to quality resources both in the present and for the future. Her own experience as an immigrant has never been forgotten as she reaches out to those who “have” and to those who “have not”, to ensure that everyone has a place at the table.
The Hispanic community represents arguably the largest single group within the Catholic Church of Southern California, yet is but one of many linguistic and cultural groups. Every Sunday, services are held in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in a staggering array of languages including Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), German, French, Tagalog, Igbo (Nigerian), Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, among others. (Directory of Ethnic Liturgies in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 2013 Catholic Directory Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 105-106.) Over the years, Sr. Edith has fostered participation of the many language and ethnic groups within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by through intentionally incorporating ethnic liturgies into the weekend of the RE Congress, as well as through encouraging the many ethnic groups to showcase their culture and their lived experience of faith at a variety of booths. The integration of multiple languages and musical traditions into the liturgies has been a model for inclusivity, nationally and internationally. Beyond the borders of the United States, local catechetical congresses in the United Kingdom, in Ireland and in other parts of the world have looked to Los Angeles and to the work undertaken by Sr. Edith for inspiration.
Leadership within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the single largest Catholic (Arch)diocese in the United States, and comprises the three counties of Los Angles, Ventura and Santa Barbara in California. Together they have a total population of almost 12million, and of that number 4.2million are Catholic (Archdiocesan Statistics. 2013 Catholic Directory reporting numbers for January 2011). In 2012, there were 70, 451 baptisms (66, 424 infant; 2,746 minor (ages 7-17); 1,281 adult). There are 287 parishes located in 120 cities.
From the beginning of her tenure as the Director of the Office of Religious Education, Sr. Edith understood that no one person could hope to adequately serve the needs arising within such a context. One of her greatest skills lay in her ability to build strong leadership teams to meet the catechetical and religious education needs of the people of the Archdiocese. Under her leadership, the Office of Religious Education has evolved to provide leadership for parish religious education practitioners at multiple generational levels: Early Childhood, Elementary, Junior High, Youth, Young Adult and Adult. A multi-lingual staff under the supervision and direction of Sr. Edith offers these leadership services. This model serves the enormous catholic population of the Archdiocese, and continues to evolve to meet the evolving parochial needs.
Within this model, Sr. Edith’s commitment to and support of Parish Directors of Religious Education is paramount. In an effort to be more connected with each of the 287 parishes, Sr. Edith employs a model within which she oversees the work of five Regional Coordinators, each of whom is in direct contact with the pastors and parish Directors of Religious Education within their particular regions. Her advocacy for and on behalf of these crucial practitioners of religious education has been notable. She advocates for resources and appropriate compensation at both a local and an Archdiocesan level, and in this she has earned the respect of pastors and DRE’s alike throughout the Archdiocese.
Building on the work of Msgr. David Sork, Sr. Edith has been hugely influential in providing formation for the legions of volunteers who labor across the Archdiocese as paid staff and as volunteer catechists. She strongly promotes certification as a means to establish a common standard of core skills for sharing faith. In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the application of the California Catholic Conference Guidelines for Obtaining the California Catechist Certificate and the California Master Catechist Certificate have led to the formation and certification of thousands of catechists. The Advanced Catechetical Ministries program and the Catechist Formation programs available in the Archdiocese, available both in English and in Spanish, see in excess of 3000 catechists being certified annually. Serving the numbers and the range of peoples it must serve, it is one of the more sophisticated and extensive programs of catechist formation in the United States. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles provides the setting for the annual Commissioning Ceremony, usually presided over by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, as the Chief Catechist of the Archdiocese.
Adult Faith Formation
A crucial aspect of Sr. Edith’s leadership and contribution to the field of religious education is the area of Adult Faith Formation. She has always acknowledged that adults deserve and require varied if particular forms of catechesis if they are to grow in the faith and deepen their relationship with Christ. Prendergast understood the admonition to “pastors of souls” that “catechesis for adults, since it deals with persons who are capable of an adherence that is fully responsible, must be considered the chief form of catechesis. All the other forms, which are indeed always necessary, are in some way oriented to it” (General Catechetical Directory, 1971. n20). While the tradition of the Catholic Church has been, and in many ways continues to be, to focus energy and resources on the religious education of youth and young people, Prendergast has always endeavored to broaden institutional efforts to foster a strong religious education outreach for adults. In addition to her concerted efforts to improve and enhance formation for adults as catechists, Prendergast may be noted for two other areas of adult formation.
In 1993, two women approached Bishop Carl Fisher and Sr. Edith Prendergast, proposing a Catholic Bible Institute be established in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Kay Murdy and Dorothy King met with Prendergast, and Sr. Edith received their proposal with enthusiasm. She assigned Fr. Jim Clarke, as Consultant and coordinator for the project. Clarke, Murdy and King worked collaboratively to develop a team, and with Prendergast’s encouragement, approached notable biblical scholars and invited them to Los Angeles. Prendergast saw the potential for developing leaders for parish-based bible studies across the entire Archdiocese. Nationally and internationally renowned scholars such as Raymond Brown, Donald Senior, Larry Boadt, Eugene LaVerdierre, and Diane Bergant, among others, accepted invitations to come to Los Angeles and to instruct learners year after year. Promotional literature for the Catholic Bible Institute quotes Raymond Brown as saying “Your Catholic Bible Institute is one of the finest things going on in this country today.” (http://academics.lmu.edu/extension/programs/bible)
In 1997, Prendergast was invited to facilitate the International Consultation for Adult Religious Education, which took place at Jacksonville, Florida. For this experience she was instrumental in crafting a process which engaged the international participants in shared reflections structured around a series of intentional questions. The process proved very successful and was adopted informally at subsequent gatherings of the International Consultation. Sr. Edith continued to participate in the International Forum through their meetings in Hyderabad (India, 1999), Bangkok (Thailand, 2001), Ushaw (England, 2003), and Sierra Madre (CA, USA, 2005). Her own staff often learned to avoid Prendergast upon her return to the office immediately following these trips, as her mind soared with the possibilities and potential of the learnings she garnered from her participation. Inevitably, Prendergast always sought to integrate best practices and novel approaches to the work of her staff. She understood herself to be a lifelong learner and disciple, and she invited all those who worked alongside her to join her in this stance.
In reality, it may well be said that the influence of Sr. Edith Prendergast on the field of catechesis and religious education is not in her writings. Most of Prendergast’s writings are found in spiritual journals and catechetical texts. The breadth of her influence is attested to by her demand as an inspirational speaker at catechetical and ecclesial events across the United States and beyond. Addressing the delegates at the Religious Education Congress alone, numbers those who have heard her words in the hundreds of thousands. She speaks and keynotes at major gatherings of catholic religious educators from Chicago to Houston, from Baltimore to San Francisco. She has addressed religious educators in Ireland and in the Caribbean, and is sought after in Canada and in Australia.
In 2011, Prendergast published an anthology of her Congress “talks”, her annual addresses to the congress delegates gathering at the Anaheim Convention Center. Themes such as “Awake to Grace”, “Gift Overflowing: A World Transformed”, “Passion for Justice”, “Embrace and Echo the Word”, provide readers with the primary passion of this daughter of Mother Mary Aikenhead. Prendergast calls those who would heed her words to a constant state of conversion and renewal. Her personal conviction, born of her ministerial experience and lifelong journey in faith, that we are all called ever more deeply into the heart and mind of Christ, becomes an invitation to believers everywhere.
Member. Region XI Directors of Religious Education, later named the California Conference of Diocesan Directors of Religious Education.
Member, Advisory Board for the Center for Religion and Spirituality, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.
Founding member of the Parish Life Directors Advisory Board, which carved a vision and direction for parish life directors.
Member, Graduate Theological Advisory Board, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.
Delegate to the National Symposium on Adolescent Catechesis (November 2000)
Animator for the Team working on a Symposium for the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership on Faith and Generations facilitated by Dr. Richard Gaillardetz, entitled “The New Pastoral Reality: Ministering in a Theologically Diverse Church” (Chicago, 2005)
Animator for the Team working on a Symposium for the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership on Faith and Post-modernity facilitated by Dr. Scott Appleby, entitled “Feeding Today’s Spiritual Hungers: The Challenges and Promises of Catechesis in a Postmodern Era”. (Nashville, 2002)
Participant. Soy catequista: the Dignity, Vocation, and Mission of the Catechist — a unique and historic consultation on catechesis in Latino communities. University of Notre Dame, IN (2006)
Member of Clergy Ongoing Formation Committee for ongoing priestly formation and enrichment, Archdiocese of Los Angeles (2005-2009)
Facilitator – International Forum on Adult Religious Education, Jacksonville, FL. 1997.
Facilitator – International Forum on Adult Religious Education (International Consultation and Sharing), Hyderabad, India. 1999.
US Delegate – International Forum on Adult Religious Education. Thailand (2001)
US Delegate – International Forum on Adult Religious Education. Ushaw, England (2003)
US Delegate and Forum Sponsor – International Consultation on Adult Religious Education. Sierra Madre, CA. USA (2005)
Devitt, Patrick M. “International Forum on Adult Religious Education: Telling Our Story” in
REA: A Journal of Religion, Education and the Arts, Issue 6, 2009, http://rea.materdei.ie/, retrieved from http://rea.materdei.ie/media/REA%20Issue%206%20-%20%20Devitt.pdf
Kramer, Thomas E. & Stamschror, Robert. (1977). The NCDD at ten. The Living Light. (610-616). Retrieved from https://nccl.wildapricot.org/resources/documents/about%20nccl/ncdd%20at%20ten%201977.pdf
Palmo, Rocco. (2011). “In LA: ‘Merry congress’” Retrieved from http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2011/03/merry-congress.html
Parent, Neil. (1991). A new look at the NCDD: Past and future. The Living Light. 27(4) (345-350). Retrieved from https://nccl.wildapricot.org/Resources/Documents/About%20NCCL/NCDD%20Past%20_%20Future%201991.pdf
Parent, Neil. (1993). Commemorative history. Retrieved from https://nccl.wildapricot.org/Resources/Documents/About%20NCCL/Commemorative%20History%201993.pdf
Sacred Congregation of the Clergy. General Catechetical Directory. Rome, 1971.
Sacred Congregation of the Clergy. General Directory for Catechesis. Rome. 1997.
Stammer, Larry & Dart, John. (1994). Conference coordinators draw ire of conservative catholics. The Los Angeles Times. February 11, 1994. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/1994-02-11/local/me-21686_1_abortion-rights-advocate
Prendergast, R.S.C, Edith. (2011). Grace abounds: A call to awaken and renew Your faith. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.
Prendergast, et al. (Gen. Ed.). (2007). Into the fields: Teacher and catechist formation. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications.
Recent Keynote Addresses:
2013. Dublin, Ireland. “Fire in the Heart. Fan the Flame”
2013. Edmonton, Canada. “Bearer of Hope and Promise”
2012. Chicago, IL. “One Sacred Communion, A Symphony”
2012. Orlando, FL. “Catechesis for and by Eucharist”
2011. Jasper, Canada. “Lead with Passion: Called to Witness”
2011. Houston, TX. “Imaging Love, Empowering Lives”
2011. Santa Clara, CA. “Glorify the Lord by your Life”
2009. Indianapolis, IN. “Passion for Justice: Embrace and Echo the Word”
2008. Las Vegas, NV. “Resound the Word: Adults living their Faith”
2008. Orlando, FL. “Diocesan Catechetical Leaders: Beacons of light, inspiring, guiding and resourcing”
2007. Dublin, Ireland. “Arise! Sent to Lead with Passion”
Excerpts from Publications
“We also relinquish our freedom when we cling to personal power, seek recognition, and are frightened of losing our good name. We become slaves to our own needs; we deny our very humanity; we forget who and whose we really are. Our hearts become two sizes too small. Setting out on this road to freedom is rarely easy; it involves a real struggle. To choose freedom is to know who we are, with all that is beautiful, authentic, and with all that is raveled and tattered in us.” (Step into Freedom. Congress 2006)
“We, too, are summoned to share the light of faith, to bring others not only in touch with, but in communion and intimacy with, Jesus. It is Jesus who laid out a vision for a new humanity, who disturbed, who shared enduring values. There are many ways of spreading light, but two in particular come to mind: to be a candle that radiates light and to be a mirror that reflects light.
“There is a painful price in being the candle. For just as a candle consumes itself as it radiates brightness, so, too, must we be willing to pour out our lives in love and compassion as Jesus did.” (Stand in the Light. Congress 2007)
“The prophets of our tradition have something to tell us about lifting our gaze and seeing anew. They looked at the world situations – the social, political, and spiritual environment – and saw the possibility of something different. They called for a world of justice and harmony, a world that places the God of life, the true God, at the center. ‘Let your eyes look straight ahead and your glance be directly forward’ (Prv 4:25). Standing in the now with all of its uncertainties, its disappointments, they held on to God’s faithful promise in covenant… We celebrate God’s reign – both now and not yet. We live in that not-yet time, a time when we must continually open our eyes anew and behold again and again the outrageous love of God, a God who continues to name us good and precious; who invites us to be wide-eyed, prophetic, and visionary.” (Lift Your Gaze, See Anew! Congress 2008)
“Situating ourselves and our ministries in the midst of discordant and disturbing voices, we long for one good word… a word of God can turn our heart and cause us to rejoice. The poet David Whyte reminds us that ‘one good word is bread for a thousand.’ Each of us is called to find the good word in the midst of suffering and to share it with others. (Gift Overflowing: A World Transformed. Congress 2002)
“Love wrapped in swaddling clothes, given freely and without counting the cost, is ultimately wrapped in clean linen and laid to rest in the earth. But Love (sic) rises to break the bonds of death forever and, in dazzling clothes, to declare triumph over death and destruction.” (Clothed in Love, Summoned Beyond. Congress 2001)
“The ultimate and infinite display of grace, present as promise and hope in the Hebrew scriptures, was revealed in the life of Jesus. Jesus describes a world overflowing with God’s grace: where the sun shines on people, good and bad; where birds gather seeds gratis, neither plowing nor harvesting to gain them; where untended wildflowers burst into bloom on rocky hills. The grace of God poured out in Jesus was what the poet John O’Donohue called ‘the permanent climate of divine kindness’. It has remained among us, even within reach of our senses. We find it available in the experience of beauty, of empowerment, or any good beyond ourselves.” (Awake to Grace. Congress 2005)
“The world coaches us to store up treasure, to grow our bank accounts, to win, grab and get. The gospel, on the other hand, invites us to sit in the company of others, to care about their needs, to trust that open-handedness is more powerful than any market… Now is the time for us to show the world that there is another way, a way marked by blessing and gratitude, a way sustained by our ‘yes’ to the banquet of life, the Eucharistic feast. Now is the time for us to show all the miracle of what God’s presence does in our lives and in our world.” (Incredible Abundance. Congress 2010)
Prendergast, R.S.C, Edith. (2011). Grace abounds: A call to awaken and renew Your faith. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.
Prendergast, et al. (Gen. Ed.). (2007). Into the fields: Teacher and catechist formation. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications.
David Loftus is an ordained priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angles. He is a graduate of both All Hallows College, Dublin, Ireland and of Boston College. For ten years (2001-2011) he served as the Consultant and Coordinator for Adult Faith Formation in the Office of Religious Education at the Archdiocese. He is a former Vice-president of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL), an organization in which he maintains membership. He now serves as a pastor in a suburban parish in the greater Los Angeles area.