Young people from 13 Midwestern states gathered for the weekend at the Divine Word College campus in Epworth, Iowa, from July 17-19, 2009, for the 25th anniversary of CRVEYS (Central Region Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society). Composed of college students and other young adults, they gathered to rekindle their faith, youth spirit and missionary zeal.
“I come to serve, not to be served – this was our theme for the conference,” says Fr. Joseph Chau Nguyen, SVD, and DWC Vocation Director. “Our main purpose in gathering was to celebrate our anniversary, which we called 25 years of Grace.”
The VEYS, first established in 1917, has its roots in France and was known as “The Croisade Eucharistique,” with the primary mission to pray for peace in the world. When it migrated to Vietnam in 1929, it became known as the VEYS. Members focus on spirituality devoted to the Eucharistic adoration – on a practical daily basis, this means prayer, sacrifice, receiving communion and performing charity work.
Fr. Binh Nguyen, SVD, is a chaplain of VEYS. He says, “The conference provided a workshop environment – a forum where young people involved in their own parish ministry can come together on a larger scale to share past experiences and look to the year ahead. ”
Though discontinued in Vietnam in 1975 for political reasons, the VEYS continues to thrive in Vietnamese communities throughout the world, helping its members to unite with the Eucharist and become active Christian leaders. The young adults who attended this conference are leaders who teach younger members catechism and leadership skills at their home parishes each week.
“As a vocation director,” says Fr. Joseph Nguyen, “it was good for me to attend this Youth Conference. I had a chance to meet these young people for vocation promotion.”
Weekend activities included discussion and activity groups, conferences and workshops, prayer, games, Eucharist adoration and daily Mass. VEYS council members who helped plan the conference also helped conduct the various activities.
“In my homily, I shared with the youth about religious vocations, especially the Society of the Divine Word,” says Fr. Joseph Nguyen. “I invited them to open their hearts to respond to God’s call to serve others in the future.” He adds that some young men approached him and shared with him about their vocational discernment.
“This weekend has been very exciting for me,” says Fr. Nguyen. “The responsibility and work involved is rewarded by the chance to show young people that we are religious here at Divine Word College, and we offer this opportunity to share that with us.”