Christmas 2018 was a special occasion for the Vietnamese SVDs in the United States. It gave them the opportunity to reflect, to pause and to share on the important things in the life of mission.
34 Vietnamese SVDs gathered at Divine Word residence, Riverside from December 26-29, 2018 for the 7thVietnamese SVD Gathering. Familiar SVD faces with many years in ordination and in permanent vows introduced themselves to the newly professed SVDs whom they met for the very first time. Old classmates from the days of formation were so eager and happy to hug their old friends. They came together from Divine Word College in Epworth, from Divine Word Theologate in Chicago and from SVD parishes and houses around the United States. They came together from the Chicago, the Southern and the Western Provinces. One Vietnamese SVD who was on vacation from Columbia and another Vietnamese SVD who was on his home leave from Papua New Guinea were also present at the gathering. The irresistible laughter, singing, clapping and cheering gathered all those present into the circle of sharing.
The magic of this Christmas gathering brightened the lives of the Vietnamese confreres with the theme, “The Love of Christ Impels Us” (2 Cor5:14). This theme created an openness to share the joys and challenges of the life in mission and ministry. Telling their personal stories from formation, ministry, education or vocation gave them a sense of closeness with one another. Remembering the past, especially the history of Vietnamese SVDs within the United States, made them proud of their vocational choice because they recognized the invisible hands of God gently working and leading them. Reflecting more on their vocation refreshed the realization that they were not alone in mission. They had the support of each other and of the SVD community. The Vietnamese SVDs looked toward the future of mission with hope.
Standing together heart to heart and hand in hand for only a few days, they gave thanks to God and to the Society of the Divine Word for this Christmas gathering. It was not only a season of rejoicing but of reflection. They discovered the meaning of sharing and giving of their life to the mission of God. The gifts of time and love and the gifts of being together were truly the ingredients for this merry Christmas. Enriched by each other’s experience and inspired by what they have heard from the Christmas gathering, the Vietnamese SVDs went forth and returned back to their mission and ministry. Christmas 2018 was truly a wonderful time of the year!