In the period from 1980 to 1990, Father Julian Elizalde, SJ, gave retreats to Vietnamese people living in North America. Father Dominic Nguyen,
SJ, continued this work from 1992 to 1997 and was succeeded by Father Thomas Le Q. Tuan,
In 1999, Father Dominic and Le Hy, a Seattle lay man experienced in Jesuit spirituality, addressed the Executive
Coordinator's group of the Vietnamese Companions of Jesus at their conference in Montreal on the subject of how
Vietnamese people's interest in Jesuit spirituality - fostered over nearly two decades - might be advanced. Dominic and Hy shared their experience of
the Spiritual Exercises and the work of two Seattle-based organizations involved in Ignatian spirituality.
The Spiritual Exercises arose out of 3 the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in the 16th Century.
The Exercises were originally designed as a thirty day experience of solitary prayer but Ignatius realized this time commitment would not be
possible for some people. He created an alternative method in which one would weave the Exercises into their everyday life over a period of nine
months. This is referred to as the 19th Annotation version or the Exercises in Everyday Life.
The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) is sponsored by the Oregon Province of the Jesuits, has offered the Exercises in Everyday Life to
people in the Puget Sound area for nineteen years, and forms lay and religious people as retreat directors.
The Ignatian Resource Center offers support for Ignatian spirituality in the Oregon Province by offering various prayer and retreat experiences,
providing formation opportunities for spiritual directors, and maintaining contact with Ignatian spiritual directors to support the needs of people
Based on the 1999 presentation, Vietnamese people in eight North American cities (Montreal, Washington DC, Houston, Phoenix, Denver, Los Angeles,
Portland and Seattle) decided they would develop SEEL-like offerings in their respective communities. Father Dominic, Hy and Mong Hang Nguyen of
Houston formed a top leadership team to support the development of retreat leaders in each of the eight cities. Using Joseph
Tetlow's Lightworks, pairs of leaders in each city selected and invited people to an introductory
Ignatian prayer experience. Sixty invitees experienced Lightworks during its initial offering in the Fall of 2000. Twice as many participated in the
Spring of 2001. Based on this interest and the willingness of leaders in each of the cities to continue their formation, the Vietnamese top
leadership team asked SEEL and the Ignatian Resource Center to help develop a formation program in which North American Vietnamese leaders would come
together to study the Spiritual Exercises and continue their formation as retreat directors.
A three year process of formation, entitled SEEL Director Training for Vietnamese
(SDTV) has been developed. In a four day workshop in June, 2002, potential directors from from the eight cities will gather at Seattle
University. Each city represented will also seek an experienced spiritual director as a mentor to attend the workshop and support them during their
development. A team comprised of the top Vietnamese leadership team, the Ignatian Resource Center, SEEL and other experienced Vietnamese retreat directors
will facilitate the learning sessions.
Following the initial workshop, potential directors will return to their home cities to facilitate Ignatian prayer groups, experience a one year
practicum in spiritual direction, and continue their development of potential retreatants.
In June of 2003, the top and local leaders will reconvene with an emphasis on the art of spiritual direction and the organizational elements of holding
retreats in the local cities. Following this convention, the city leadership teams will hold nine-month iterations of the Spiritual Exercises
in Everyday Life in their home communities. The leaders will reconvene in 2004 to share their learnings and celebrate successes.