ĐH 2007.01 | Mùa Chay 2007 - To Live Simply so that Others May Simply Live


Trang chính Bao DH 2007 2007-01

Introduction to SEED

Kim-Anh Vu

  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.

Recently, the 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.

In reflection, 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!

"Take, Lord, receive....

You have given all to me, now I return it."

When I 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.

Kim-Anh Vu