Mustard Seeds is
a Dong-Hanh CLC group that has been formed since 1985 within the
campus grounds of the University of California, Irvine. The idea of
having a Dong-Hanh group within a university originated from a few
students attending a weekend retreat that was adapted from the
Spiritual Exercises by Fr. Julian Elizalde, SJ, who was a Spanish
Jesuit who could speak Vietnamese fluently. For more than 20 years,
this group continues to have active presence within the Catholic
community of the university. Embracing the Ignatian spirit, they meet
weekly to pray and to live community life, as well as to help each
other integrate different aspects of the busy student life. They
participate in service projects in Tijuana, Mexico, music ministry on
campus, as well as Dong-Hanh activities.
Mustard Seeds were invited to prepare a retreat of young children of
ages from 6 to 15 by the parents of the Nazareth Dong-Hanh CLC
community. It was an invitation that followed CLC Our Way of
Proceeding. Five members were missioned from the group to carry out
the retreat with full support from the group as well as from the
Southwest Dong-Hanh region. It was a collaborative effort of the
parents and the students to bring the S.E.E.D retreat to the children.
This came from the many months and years of the parents asking the
questions: "How do we begin introducing the Spiritual Exercises to our
young children as they are also considered members of our family
community? How do we introduce to our children a personal God who
loves and cares for us unconditionally?"
Such were the
questions that led us to the first S.E.E.D retreat on September 20-22,
2006 in Flagstaff, Arizona amidst the pines and ponderosa trees. There
were 22 children and five retreat leaders with the support of all the
parents and one priest. Those were wonderful days of blessings.
Beginning with orientation, the children were led into the retreat
with the dynamics of different activities: the treasure hunt,
interviewing the saints, learning about God, each other and self in
nature, morning prayer with music and songs, evening Examen with some
quiet moments of gratefulness, and entertainment night where the
parents, children and retreat leaders put together their talents in
skits, dance, music...The parents marveled at the children’s ability
to translate Biblical messages into today’s circumstances. The
children laughed at their parents’ silliness. We all enjoyed God’s
presence among us. Truly we were living the CLC way of life of
Ignatian spirituality, community and mission.
the Lord has blessed the Mustard Seeds with so much during the last 20
years. We were given a spirituality that has brought us close to God
and to each other. We found "home", where we truly belong. In service
to each other and the community at large, we understood more deeply
the meaning of our life. I was once a Mustard seed when it started in
1985. How the Lord labors to form and guide the group! How He has
journeyed with us thus far to provide all of our needs and more!
given all to me, now I return it."
graduated and it was time to leave the Mustard Seeds, I prayed this
prayer. I did not know then that 20 years later, it would be the
Mustard Seed members who would be giving a retreat for our very own
children. Indeed, in receiving what I was giving back to Him, the Lord
gave back to me even more than I could ever imagine. His love and
grace continue to overflow into the lives of our children, gifting
them and blessing them. Yes, He has given back to us so much more than
what we have offered to Him. Indeed, "our cups were overflowed" when
we witnessed the joy and peace in the smiles of our children. We thank
God deeply for sowing seeds of love in their hearts. May He continue
to receive them and give them back to the world with hearts
anew more and more each day.