Thursday, July 19, 2012

For These Young Nuns, Habits Are The New Radical

Barbara Bradley Hagerty - NPR

For the most part, these are grim days for Catholic nuns. Convents are closing, nuns are aging and there are relatively few new recruits. But something startling is happening in Nashville, Tenn. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are seeing a boom in new young sisters: Twenty-seven joined this year and 90 entered over the past five years.

The average of new entrants here is 23. And overall, the average age of the Nashville Dominicans is 36 — four decades younger than the average nun nationwide.

Unlike many older sisters in previous generations, who wear street clothes and live alone, the Nashville Dominicans wear traditional habits and adhere to a strict life of prayer, teaching and silence.

They enter the chapel without saying a word, the swish of their long white habits the only sound. It is 5:30 in the morning, pitch black outside — but inside, the chapel is candescent as more than 150 women kneel and pray and fill the soaring sanctuary with their ghostly songs of praise.

A few elderly sisters sit in wheelchairs, but most of these sisters have unlined faces and are bursting with energy. Watching them, you wonder what would coax these young women to a strict life of prayer, teaching, study and silence.

And did they always want to be nuns?

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We Are Catholic

Artist: Sugarland

Fire like lightening
Burnin' up the night
A smoke horizon
Won't give up the fight

Fire like lightening
Burnin' up the night
a smoke horizon
Won't give up the fight
Well, deep inside can you hear that call?
Wakin' your heart and shakin' your walls
Where love is found, the nations fall
A cry will rise above it all

All we are (We are!)
All we are (We are!)
All we are (We are!)
All we are, We are young!

Shine like diamonds
Cut the night into the sky
Light ridin'
Show me your love

Deep inside I can hear that call
Wakin' my heart and shakin' my walls
Where love is found, the nations fall
A cry will rise above it all

All we are (We are!)
All we are (We are!)
All we are (We are!)
All we are, We are yoouuunnnngggg!

Lift me up (Fire like lightening, baby)
It's not over (Fire like lightening, baby)
We are young (Fire like lightening, baby)
Tell me (Fire like lightening, baby)
Over and over (Over and over)
We are young (Over and over)
Over and over (Over and over)
Over and over and over and over and over and over
Fire like lightening

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

SEED Leader Training Reflection​s

June 15-17, 2012
Huntington Beach, CA, USA

▪ ▪ ▪

Paula Hoang:

1)      What were the graces received?
I learned about myself a lot more and now know what I need to work on/continue to do. I've also learned to be a lot more accepting and flexible!
2)      How was God present at the training weekend?  How was He moving among the attendants?
He brought us all here with such great spirits. We gave us all energy to learn and put our all into the activities that we do. Either that or He gave the leaders the wisdom to get us moving.
3)      How was my heart moved?  How was God speaking to me with all the activities?
He told me to be more aware and understanding of not only others but also myself and how I work with other people.
4)      What is God’s invitation for me during and after the training?
 I am not so sure. Maybe just take away something from every activity and not to forget, but continue to work on my weaknesses.
5)      What remains in my heart?
 I'm still stuck on the personality test and the listening activity. I really have to work on accepting people for who they are instead of complaining they're unreasonable or something of the sort. For the listening activity, it really helped. The Dos and Don'ts really let me look into what I did and didn't do, so it was nice to reflect on that and now, I can actively change my own habits because I know what I do and don't do.
Thanks for everything! :] This pass weekend was really great! I loved growing closer and working with everyone. Everyone is just so amazing!

▪ ▪ ▪
Vianney Truong:

I had a great weekend learning, interacting, bonding, and experiencing SEED training! I had a lot of fun and especially liked meeting old SEED leaders I so greatly admired as a SEEDling in the past. I also enjoyed meeting the new SEED leaders of Hat Cai and experienced the wonderful friendship and openness of everyone present. This SEED training reminded me of the wonderful impact SEED has on kids, SEED leaders, and the community (Dong Hanh) as a whole. As a SEEDling that has experienced SEED retreat, I feel so blessed to participate in this wonderful ministry! From this training, I took away a desire to serve others in my upcoming role as CLC coordinator at Creighton University. I also came away with a profound appreciation for SEED retreat leaders and the tremendous care and love they put into helping kids.
Sincerely,Vianney Truong from nhom J-Walkers

▪ ▪ ▪

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Trung Pham: Leadership Assembly Recap

Thursday June 28th, 2012.
The Opening of Leaderships Assembly 5

The 5th Leadership Assembly of Christian Life Community - USA was held at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with and attendance of 68 leaders from 11 geographical regions and two cultural bodies; K-CLC and Dong Hanh-CLC.  One after another, one from different parts of the country flew in and were picked up at Pittsburgh Airport to then be dropped off at Gilmary Retreat Center.
Fr. Jim O’Brien, SJ presided the Thursday Mass at 5:00 PM which celebrated the Feast of St .Iraneaus. Although the St. Mary chapel was suffocating with the heat wave, the entire assembly joyfully celebrated Eucharist Sacrament with English and Vietnamese worshipping hymns.

After dining in the sauna-like dining room, at 7:30 PM Hang Nguyen, President of CLC-USA, convened members of the National Coordinating Council (NCC) and seated the new members; in which there 4 additional members from K-CLC and 4 additional members from Dong Hanh along with the Delegates. This is the 1st in-person meeting of the expended NCC.

In the same process, Mong Hang also retold the Miami Assembly experience in which Dong Hanh joined CLC-USA.  She also mentioned the growing presence of K-CLC communities and the vibrant energy of S. Florida communities in the CLC-USA that led to the drive and efforts on re-organize our community.   

Friday June 29th, 2010.
The morning prayer was led by the Working Group members.  Old, young, new Delegates joined their voice and body movement with the prayer: “I Surrender”.  It was so touching and inspirational to see people in silver hair,  with walker, young faces prayed together with their Heart, Body and Soul with the song: I Surrender – I step into the flow, and then I let it go, my mind, my heart, my soul, I surrender,  I surrender…” 

During the 4th exercise: Relationship among Members in the CLC-USA Community, Rick Kunkle, chairperson of the Working Group shared the vision for the new structure.

After the presentation, participants broke out into small affinity groups: DH, K-CLC, S. Florida,  and geographical regions to discern for disadvantages and advantages on the proposed vision of membership, community and clusters, and that took all day.

Liem Le led everyone back to memory lane way back to the very first community formed by Jean Leunis, SJ in 1548 .  The up and down of Marian Congregation along the suppression and revival of Society of Jesus.  God had protected CLC through out  the 450 years in order for Vietnamese Catholic in USA still have opportunity to experienced God’s love and live CLC vocation fully.     Yes, we were convinced that 

On Friday evening, the Feast of St Peter and St. Paul was presided by Fr. Tri Dinh.  During the Homily, he pointed out that CLC-USA not just a house but a home in which we all will come into loving relationship. Also we were surprised with the visit of Ms Daniela Frank, the World CLC president.  During the Mass, Henry Gonzales, Carol Gonzales and Sophie Nguyen made their commitment.  Daniela representing the World community was very happy to receive their commitments.    Many other Delegates also renewed their commitment.  To celebrate the occasion, Daniela gave all committed members each a new pin of the CLC-USA.  

Saturday June 30th, Evening.
The exercise 5a - Service Centers and National Offices led by Mong Hang and 5b – the Executive Council and the Delegate Assembly led by Maryanne Rouse touched so close rto what ACE DH  treasured so dearly.  They was in desolation, fear, tension, pain because the reality of losing Dong Hanh identity and leadership capacity to process and link all DH members into one family when the new structure being implemented.   Tears flew.  Faces whiten.  Eyes red.   Tension among ACE leaders were evident and imminent.  They took a long time to pray individually on these subjects and shared their graced experiences  before returning to big group session.  At last, peace and interior freedom filled their hearts.  

At 8:30 PM 24 members of National Coordinating Council and 5 Executive Council sit in a fishbowl circle to formulate statements for next day deliberation on 6 different areas: Membership, Community, Cluster, Service Centers, National Offices, Delegate Assembly and Executive Council.  The session was intensively participative and  ACE DH voiced concerns that they reached for DH Community.

At 9:00 PM, the CLC By Night started rolling out with a wonderful entertaining programs contributed and performed by almost all of the Leadership Assembly participants.  The Fashion show of various cultural costumes within CLC-USA was the most colorful and educational contribution.  ACE DH put on our traditional khăn đông and áo dài.  Please see pictures.   

Phóng Viên Đồng Hành

Thái Sơn: Reflection LA Assembly, Pittsburgh 2012

"Too bad I have to miss the last day of the Assembly"

I said to myself when sitting at the airport to return to Dallas. I have a flight to Vietnam to catch early the next day, so here I am, sitting on the plane reflecting back on the graces of the last couple of days.
What remains in me?

Faith. Hope. Love.

This weekend was about a communal discernment as we discern together a new way of being and organized together within CLC USA with the richness in its diversity. I remembered the first nights our Dong Hanh brothers and sisters checked in together and asked for the graces to be open, to be real and humble. It was quite a challenge and journey...

I believe it was not a coincidence that this weekend of discernment about the restructuring process falls onto the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, the 2 pillars of the our Church. Cha Tri Dinh, during his homily on Friday, reminded us that Peter and Paul, 2 men who made a lot of mistakes in their life, but yet always remain open to let that consuming love of God transform them. A love of God so immense that in Jesus, God is willing to give up, to "waste" all that He has and all that He is for us. St Peter represents unity, structure... On the other hand, St Paul represent diversity, charism... They have done so much for our Church. Yet, at the end of their life, all that they have and cherish is this love of God that has transformed their life. They knew and have always found their home.

In this re-structuring process, there is this tension between unity and diversity. It was real. We have been going through this today. There were moments of desolation, tension, doubt, fears, questions and uncertainties today when we listen and discuss about the new proposed structure of CLC-USA, as there were also uncertainties of what will happen to Dong Hanh-CLC in the future. As we got the chance earlier this afternoon in the chapel to pray, to be real with one another with our thoughts and feelings, we started to face our fears, desolations and doubts. As we shared and let the Spirit speak, we started to be a little more peaceful and become a little more free. We trust a little more that God has a plan and dream for us. We walk together more in faith.

I remember someone asked St Ignatius after he founded the Society of Jesus :"How do you feel if the Society of Jesus is suppressed". He replied:"Give me 15 minutes to recompose myself in prayer and I will be ok." His reply still strikes and touches me so much every time I think of it. What an inner freedom! That is the indifference and detachment that we often talking about in Ignatian spirituality. St Ignatius is very clear about what is the gift. Who is the giver. What is a means. What is an end.  At the end of the day, for Ignatius, it is not about the Society of Jesus, it is about Jesus.

This story gives me a lot of hope. For about 30 years and for all of us, Dong Hanh-CLC has been a big gift from God.  We have been embracing this gift and sharing it with others. Yet, we are also called to be indifferent and detached from this gift, just like St Ignatius. In the context of this re-structuring process, we are called to be more open and give more space for God to shape this gift, to be more ready to let go, as well as to trust deeper and hang on tighter to Him. I remembered one of our Dong Hanh NCC member just shared this afternoon:"Before I am a Canadian, I am a Vietnamese. Before I am a Vietnamese, I am a Catholic."

I hope that the whole Assembly will continue to be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be open to the changing and unfolding of the structure through the suggestions, inputs, recommendations of everyone, so we can strive together to build a structure that embraces unity as well as diversity, that is empowering, that fosters relationships, that helps one another discover and live out one's  personal vocation, which is the heart of CLC charism.

I don't know what God has in store for the new structure of CLC-USA. I don't know what the new "house" will look like. All I can do is trust. All we can do is to continue to build loving, genuine relationships, to foster the sense of home, so that when the house is there, it would be a "homey" one, and there, it would be full of joyful people who is so filled with love, that they would be able to say to one another:"I love you so much that I am willing to give up all that I am and all that I have for you".

"So faith, hope, and love remain, these three... But the greatest of these is love" 1 Cor 13:13

Tinh Chua qua tinh nguoi.
When we are not sure what the next step would be, the next surest step is to love.

Thái Sơn

Leadership Assembly - Ngày 3

Dear all,

Morning prayer remind the delegates to trust; trust in one another, trust in God.  The only moment of the day that is calm.  It was as if the calm before the storm.  The rest of the day was not as calm; in fact, it was a tough tough day for all who was here.  Why was the day hard?  It was hard because we were all asked to give up a part of us which we all held so close to our heart. 

Restructuring of CLC-USA was not new to most of us.  We knew of the process for at least 5 years.  I found out that the process actually started almost immediately after the Assembly in Miami in 2004.  In fact, last year at the Leadership Assembly, Dong Hanh breathed a sigh of relieve when the proposed structure included an entity called "Affinity Group" that would satisfied Dong Hanh current structure.  If that was so, then why was this year so tough? 

There is a saying " the devil is in the detail".  This year's Leadership Assembly will begin to propose more specific detail.  This was when the rubber hit the road.  When the details begin to emerge, it did not even dawn on the delegates of the ramification until it was explained to us in more detail by anh Liem and anh Trung last night.  Dong Hanh now faced a reality that dong hanh as the way most of us know will cease to exist, if details of the structure are implemented.

Dong Hanh, a home to many of us; a place that give us identity; a place that nurture us;  Now we are asked to give it up.  Give up not only its name, but the life giving structure.  This is something that I have been struggled with these issues for the past few weeks with no clear answer.  Tension was high at time, in fact, as anh Liem put it, there was no freedom in our discernment at all.  The reality that was put forth was not even conceived of and not easily accepted by most of us.  Yet, this issue was placed on the shoulders of Dong Hanh delegates.  We took much time, more time than any other communities, but it was to be expected, because we have much more to loose.  To give up our identity in exchange of something concrete may be easier to decide, but even the details that were presented was very sketchy at best.  So we were ask to give us something so dear to us in exchange for more unknown and uncertainty.

My contemplation revolved around the prayer of St. Francis especially the part that say "in giving that we are received".  Oh such painful invitation.  But then just like the mustard seed, it must die in order to give life.  Just like Christ, there is no resurrection if there is no dying.  I was reminded of all the morning prayers - on Friday, freedom comes from giving up of value; on Saturday, we are asked to trust in God, trust in one another.  I was also reminded of the quote from Progressio that Liem uses as his signature that CLC exist so that the Church may grow (paraphrase).  If that is so, then what about Dong Hanh?  Does Dong Hanh exist so that the church may grow?  I am being asked to die myself so that the Church may grow?  We are all being invited to die "one self" so that the Church may grow and grow stronger.    I began to get clarity on what must be done.  At the group sharing, it was apparent to many of us too.

I honestly don't know where this will lead us.  I do know is that as a community (of delegates), we were faced with an invitation to grow deeper in our relationship with His Church and instead of  running away, we face the growing pain together.  We face the fear of uncertainty head on.  We discern as a community with God as our center.  We arrived at a consensus freely.  We emerge from a place of deep desolation to a place of clarity.

We were reminded that to follow Christ, we will never be the same again;  So it is with Dong Hanh.  Where we go from here I don't really know.  However sitting here at 7am on Sunday morning, I feel a sense of peace; I feel confirmed; I feel free; I feel that I am, we are all at a good place.

In Christ's Love,

P.S.  Attached is the picture of all the delegates from Dong Hanh and 2 other vietnamese delegates represent other regions.  Missing from the picture are Thai Son and cha Doan.

More pictures:!i=1937272208&k=Zr6gpd5