Vietnamese youth leaders gather at DWC

Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society (CRVEYS)— gathered at DWC for a conference July 15-17


They came from around Iowa and Minnesota and as far away as Ohio and Michigan. One-hundred-fifty young adults—the youth-leadership core of the 13-state Central Region of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society (CRVEYS)—gathered at DWC for a conference July 15-17.

"This particular weekend, we’re using the theme of, ‘Here I am Lord. I come to do your will,’" said Fr. Thi

 Fr. Thi Pham, SCJ
 Fr. Thi Pham, SCJ
 Fr. Binh Nguyen, SVD
 Fr. Binh Nguyen, SVD

Pham, SCJ, CRVEYS chaplain. "We use the model of the young Samuel and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They struggled in their lives yet they still had the faith to do the will of God."

Fr. Pham replaces Fr. Binh Nguyen, SVD, as the regional chaplain. Fr. Binh, a 1995 graduate of DWC and later Vocation Director, has been named the national vice chaplain for the VEYS and will move to Washington, D.C. this month. For the last six years, he has worked in a parish in St. Louis, Missouri as well as performing his duties as chaplain for the CRVEYS.

"I am very excited and very happy that the (SVD) Superior allows me to do this because it is what I have been working for," Fr. Binh said of his promotion to the national level. "One thing I learned very early is that young people are hungry for holiness, a holy life, but have no idea how to get there."

There are eight regions of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society (VEYS) in the United States, of which the CRVEYS is a part. The greater organization can trace its roots to France during World War I, when it was known as the Eucharistic Crusade. The movement made its way to Vietnam in the 1920s, where it took root. Vietnamese immigrants brought it to the US and established the movement in their communities around the country.

Local chapters often meet after Mass on Sunday where children from age seven on up gather for meetings organized by these youth leaders who focus their efforts on Eucharistic adoration, teaching the Catechism and character development. These leaders teach by example and as they move up the ranks within the organization. They also help organize conventions such as this one.

A year ago, Fr. Binh brought a group of 400 rank-and-file members of the CRVEYS to DWC. This year, the gathering is centered on the youth leaders—the young men and women of college age or older who form the backbone of the group. As they grow older, their responsibilities within the organization grow as well. Combine those responsibilities with increasing demands of school, work and family, and it gets complicated.

"This group is very demanding and they get burned out," Fr. Binh said. "When they come together, they get revitalized. They need their friends, they need to reunite together, then they have time for workshops, prayer and the main thing is Eucharistic adoration. They love it."

Hoa Nguyen, 21, attends the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, majoring in Early Childhood Education.

Hoa Nguyen

She’s been a member of the VEYS since she was eight, except for her high school years when she quit because of a job. Hoa rejoined the organization because she wanted to work with children, and the fact that she simply missed the VEYS.

"This has been a big part of my life, it helps me keep my faith," she said. "I realize now, whenever I have a problem, I can always turn to God. I can talk to him, ask him questions. I always talk to God. I always pray."

Stephen Pham, 22, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in computer science and now works for a financial firm in downtown St. Paul. He’s been a member of the VEYS for more than 12 years.

"It means a lot to me because, growing up in it, I’ve learned a lot about my faith, about the Catholic community and how to help spread the Word," he said. "Now being a leader, I try to be a good role model for the kids by making good decisions. Whether I’m at work or at school, I always have the youth group with me in spirit."