It has been almost 2 months since we gathered in Pittsburgh for the CLC-USA Leadership Conference III. Another moment of our Graced History! Another step on our transformation journey to become ONE apostolic community in mission built on our realities and guided by the General Principles and General Norms of the World CLC. It took us a lot of preparation to get to where we are today. We discovered together our Graced Histories and we received the confirmation that God has been guiding us throughout and that God continues to guide us as we progress on our transformation journey. Each of us is going through a transformation process on this journey: spiritually, emotionally, and physically. We trust in God’s plan for us. We need to let go of our comfort, and our familiarity. We need to give up some independence to become mutually inter-dependent. We are invited to let go of a structure that seems to work well for our local groups and to move toward an organization that embrace differences and build strength on diversity.
The reflection on CLC-US transformation journey also reminds me or my own transformation journey that I’d to share with you.
It started in 1973 in Saigon (Vietnam) when I was a freshman college student. After the whole day of classes at University of Saigon, I usually went to Dac Lo Center (a Jesuit center for students) to study as well as to attend Mass and meet with other students. I made my first Ignatian weekend retreat with Fr Julian Elizalde, SJ and joined one of the faith sharing groups at the center. The group’s activities were interrupted in 1975 when the Vietnamese Communists took over the rest of the country. I fled Saigon in 1975 and started a new life in the US. I felt a deep sense of loss… my country, my home, my church, my friends, my group, and pretty much a life that I was so used to. A year later, a group of former students from Dac Lo connected with each other and we made our first Ignatian retreat in the US with Fr Julian (who came to the US to help the Vietnamese refugees). In subsequent years, many Ignatian Retreats were organized throughout North America (US, Canada) and out of these retreats many groups were born. We formed the “Spiritual Exercises Oversea Group” to help the Vietnamese living abroad to live the Catholic faith and preserving our culture. In the early 80’s, the group agreed to adopt the General Principles of CLC as the norms for our way of life and our group’s name was changed to Dong Hanh. Our journey continued…In 2004 (31 years after our first group was formed at Dac Lo Center in Vietnam), we became part of the CLC-US community. It is truly a pilgrimage for me! God continues to invite me in a mysterious way to a new land as I go deeper into the CLC way of life.
This journey is by no means without challenge. I still remember the feeling of uneasiness when DH-CLC asked me to be in the D&O committee in 2005. We just joined CLC-USA for less than 6 months. Going from a community where I knew many people to a larger community where I hardly knew anybody. Until then, my activities have been pretty much “DH-centric” and I was quite content. My involvement with D&O led me to a new place on my pilgrimage. It was 5 years of blessings. I was transformed…Together with Peggy Edwards, Lois Campbell, Tom Bausch, Katerina Kim, Trung Pham, Ady Viera, and Claudia Rodriguez, I immersed into a multi-cultural family. CLC-USA becomes my family, a big family. Like a beautiful piece of crystal, this family is beautiful but also very fragile. Through the committee’s work, I learned to cherish and to care for this precious piece. We want to keep the uniqueness of each component of the crystal AND we want the whole piece to shine too.
And now, God is calling me to step out of my comfort zone and move on to a new place again. I accept the new role in CLC-USA as elected president because I know that I am not alone in the mission. I love our way of proceeding (DSSE). We listen to God’s call together, we send each other in mission, we support each other in mission, and we evaluate the mission together. I accepted to take on a bigger responsibility because I am full of hope, knowing that God continues to lead us : “for I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare, not for woe, plans to give you a future full of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11-12). At the CLC Summit in Houston, in Jan 2010, we confirmed the strengths of each cultural community. Together, CLC-USA is a tremendous treasure, treasure of graces, of diverse living experiences, and of immense loving capacity. Each of the cultural community is like an organ system in the body. How can all the organ systems function harmoniously and make the body whole, with longevity and strength. We want to walk together while celebrating our differences and to support each other in our weaknesses and calling forth each other’s strength. The transformation journey demands trust, compassion, commitment, patience, coordination, and above all, prayers from each of us.
God is leading us big time. God’s guidance is manifested in many activities that are going on in various teams/committees: Formation, Advancement/Development, Communication, Apostolic Action, WGO, Marriage Renewal, SEED retreats, Lightworks, Magis retreats, Cura Personalis, and much more. My dear brothers and sisters, we are soooo blessed! Like Liem said at the 2009 National Assembly, we all are invited to be fully alive, be fully ourselves, and take our position in this transformation journey.
Have a blessed journey and please keep me in your prayers.
+ + +
Mong-Hang Nguyen is a newly CLC-USA elected president and is currently a member of DH-CLC in Houston. She has been chair of various leadership teams in DH-CLC, CLC-USA, retreat centers, and her local parish. She and her husband, Khanh, live in Houston Texas. They have 3 sons (Chris Khoi, Kenneth Khai, and Kevin Khuong).