Happy New Year!

As we welcome in 2020, this year has a lot in store, and not just the Summer Olympics and the U.S. national elections on November 3! Here at TJP, we wanted to offer you a list of some of the top Catholic events to look forward to in 2020. 

Get out your calendars and add the following:


1. FOCUS SLS (Dec 30-Jan 3 in Phoenix, AZ)

As we begin the new year, young adults are currently gathered in Phoenix, AZ, at the FOCUS Student Leadership Summit (SLS), which occurs every other year in between the larger SEEK conference. FOCUS is a Catholic collegiate outreach program that sends recent college grads in teams of four missionaries to 150+ college campuses to lead Bible studies and engage the faith of students.

SLS is designed to train leaders in discipleship, prayer, and small-group facilitation. The event includes adoration, confessions and daily Mass, along with keynote speakers and breakout sessions. This year’s speakers include FOCUS founder Curtis Martin and law professor/writer Helen Alvaré, along with a New Years Eve concert with Matt Maher.


2. March for Life (January 24 in Washington, D.C.)

CNS photo/Leslie E. Kossoff

Beginning in 1974, the March for Life has been held every year in Washington D.C. on the Friday nearest to the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States. The event starts at midday and begins with a rally at the National Mall, followed by a march that ends at the steps of the Supreme Court.

Several Catholic events surround the march, including an all-night prayer vigil at the National Basilica, a youth rally at the Verizon Center hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington, and morning Masses before the office March begins. Georgetown University also hosts the annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life every year on the day after the March.


3. Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (Feb 20-23 in Los Angeles, CA)

CNS photo/Victor Aleman, Angelus News

Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Religious Education Congress (RECongress) is the largest annual gathering of Catholics in the U.S. with roughly 40,000 people attending. The RECongress is split into two parts: a youth day on February 20, and then three days for adults from February 21-23.

The Youth Day theme for 2020 is “20/20 Through God’s Eyes” and brings together high school youth for liturgy, workshops and entertainment. The theme this year for the adult days is “Live Mercy – Be Holy” and offers a remarkable 200 speakers in over 300 workshops (a mix of English, Spanish and Vietnamese), plus entertainment, concerts and daily liturgies. The speakers this year include Bishop Robert Barron, Sr. Teresa Maya, CCVI, and Jesuit priests Greg Boyle, SJ, and James Martin, SJ.


4. Pope Francis publishes his Apostolic Exhortation in response to the Amazon Synod (expected by March)

CNS photo/Paul Haring

Apostolic exhortations are commonly issued by the pope in response to synods, like Christus vivit (“Christ is Alive”) promulgated by Pope Francis in March 2019 in response to the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith, and vocational discernment in October 2018.

The regional Synod of Bishops on the Amazon was held at the Vatican in October 2019, and Pope Francis’s response is expected before March of this year. While the topics of married priests and women deacons to serve in remote regions of the Amazon was a hot topic in the media, the synod addressed many other topics, including synodality, ecology, and the protection of indigenous communities. 


5. The Economy of Francis (March 26-28 in Assisi)

CNS photo/Isabelle Baldwin

In his encyclicals, Pope Francis has issued a call to critically evaluate the world economy and how it could be better structured in a way that promotes human dignity and the common good with particular attention for the most marginalized.

This event, the Economy of Francis (in reference to St. Francis of Assisi, from whom the Pope took his name), is an international meeting between young scholars and activists in the field of economics, convened by Pope Francis himself. It will bring together over 2,000 participants from 120 different countries.


6. Global Compact on Education (May 14 in Rome)

On the fifth anniversary of the publication of the papal encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis is inviting those who are invested in the education of young people to sign a “Global Pact.” The goal of the meeting is to renew a passion in educators for a more open and inclusive education, including patient listening, constructive dialogue, and better mutual understanding.

According to an African proverb, “it takes a whole village to educate a child.” In this spirit, Pope Francis hopes the event will help to create a global “educational village” that is committed to the care of our common home and dedicated to generating peace, justice, and hospitality among all peoples of the human family. The event will bring together leaders of various religions, spokespeople of international non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), and academics.


7. Pope Francis publishes Praedicate evangelium on the governance of the Roman Curia (reportedly at the end of July)

CNS photo/Vatican Media

Since his election, Pope Francis has targeted the restructuring of the Roman Curia as a top priority. This year is expected to finally bring the publication of Praedicate evangelium, the apostolic constitution that will redesign the structure of the Curia to make it more effective in ministering to the global Church. This type of document, an apostolic constitution, is the highest form of legislation issued by the Pope.

While this might not be the hottest item to mark on your calendars, it could bring a big shakeup to the central governance of the Church. It is sure to cause a stir, certainly in Rome, if not in your local parish.


8. Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (November 14-16 in Washington, D.C.)

CNS photo/courtesy Ignatian Solidarity Network

Held annually in Washington D.C., the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) is the largest Catholic social justice gathering in the U.S. The Teach-In brings together roughly 2,000 participants from the Ignatian family (mostly groups from Jesuit high schools and colleges, but many more, including TJP readers!).

The first two days of the Teach-In feature keynote speakers, breakout sessions, prayer and liturgy. Booths are set up outside the event hall, where you can find the smiling faces of TJP staff and pick up free swag! And don’t forget to catch Fr. James Martin, S.J. for a selfie! On the final day of the event, groups head to Capitol Hill to meet with representatives in Congress to advocate for policy changes, on such topics as immigration and criminal justice reform.


If those eight events aren’t enough to satiate your appetite, here are a few other events that might be of interest:


[Article last edited 1/2/2020 at 11:00am ET.]


Brian Strassburger, SJ

bstrassburgersj@thejesuitpost.org   /   All posts by Brian