Members of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement clown around at this year’s annual summer camp. Photo courtesy of VEYM Canada

Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement marks decade of shaping lives

By  Vincent Pham, Youth Speak News
  • September 20, 2018

A push from his big brother has sent Danny Luong on a path that, eight years later, has become a huge part of his life.

Luong was 16 years old when he first heard about the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (VEYM) at his local parish. His older sibling forced him to join the youth group. 

“I didn’t know a youth group was forming and I didn’t know what they were doing,” he said. “Then a year later, I met a lot of people and learned a lot of stuff and now, I am running the youth group.”

Luong, 24, is the president of VEYM’s Thomas Thiện chapter at Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in Toronto. He oversees over 100 youth and 15 youth leaders in the parish. As the group celebrates its 10-year milestone on the weekend of Sept. 22-23, the members are looking back at the impact VEYM has had in their lives. Several events are marking the occasion, including a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated with the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish community. A yearbook has also been compiled to commemorate the event. 

“It is a big year because it marks a decade of our chapter being alive, being active at the church,” said Tina Nguyen, the vice-president of academic affairs of VEYM Thomas Thiện chapter. “For us, the fact that we had 10 years worth of memories, 10 years worth of meaningful events, it shows a lot of dedication not just from the leaders but also the youth.”

Vietnamese youth in green, blue, yellow or brown scarves — signifying their age group — have been gathering with youth leaders at James Culnan Catholic School every Saturday throughout the school year to deepen their faith. They participate in Bible sharing and games, eucharistic adoration and encouraging the practice of devotions such as praying the rosary.

“EYM is supposed to be a pathway that trains children to be more aware of God’s presence in their life and have a personal relationship with Jesus,” said Alphonso Minh Triet Le, who was one of the first youth leaders of the VEYM Thomas Thiện chapter and current vice-president of academic affairs for VEYM Canada. 

“It goes back to the beginning of 2008. The pastor at the time, Fr. Joseph, saw the need to organize the youth and to help them to grow in rituals and devotions. He was aware of the movement called Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thánh Thể — Eucharistic Youth Movement,” said Le.

“It was a big undertaking, a big challenge to set up a chapter in the parish because we were aware of some difficulties in the past to maintain a chapter there.”

VEYM Canada began with the Dominic Savio chapter in Montreal in 1984 and has grown to 11 chapters across Canada, with another planned for the St. Jane Frances Vietnamese community in north Toronto. 

The membership in each chapter is divided into four age groups from 7 to 17. Once the youth reach 18, they may choose to become a youth leader. 

Eric Dao is a 17-year-old member of the establishment of the Thomas Thiện chapter. This past summer he attended the four-day Youth Leader training camp and assisted with the annual summer camp. 

“I think EYM has really made a stronger connection with my spiritual life,” he said. “Originally I just came to church to sit down, listen to my parents and participate in Mass. Through EYM, I was able to connect, share with like-minded individuals and continue to grow my faith.” 

(Pham, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Chaminade College School in Toronto, Ont.)

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