Most Vietnamese Catholic parishes – in Vietnam and in America – offer three organizations for parishioners: the Sacred Heart Association for men; the Catholic Mother Organization for married women; and the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (VEYM) for children and young adults. These special groups are designed to enhance relationships with God and encourage members to witness for Christ with acts of love and kindness. Members of VEYM are encouraged to pray daily, receive the Eucharist, offer sacrifices, and pray for people to have peaceful deaths.
After the Fall of Saigon in 1975, many parishes welcomed Vietnamese Catholics in this country and prioritized the VEYM. The estimated number of VEYM members is now around 20,000. Identifying leaders for VEYM has always been an issue. Aware of this special need, which aligns with the youth ministry priority of the North American Conference, Denver Province leadership happily responded to a request for Fr. Joe Thong Ngo to serve as the new VEYM General Chaplain.
Provincial Vicar Aaron Meszaros participated in Fr. Joe Thong’s installation ceremony two weeks ago at the Retreat House of the Divine Word Community in Riverside, CA. “I’m not much of a dancer, but I quickly learned that VEYM gatherings have a lot of dancing and hand movements. I’m not very coordinated, but I felt at home when one of the dances introduced was the ‘Chicken Dance,’” he said. “My three days with the national and regional VEYM leadership teams were marked by joy, hope and an immense amount of gratitude.”
Officiated by Bishop Larry Silva (Diocese of Honolulu), Fr. Joe Thong was installed as General Chaplain in a small, crowded, and very warm chapel. “I cannot count the number of times VEYM leadership extended their gratitude toward the Redemptorists for enabling our confrere to accompany them as their General Chaplain. Honestly, the gratitude goes both ways. My time with VEYM was a blessing, opening my eyes to this movement and how it aligns with our own mission as Redemptorists, and our call to accompany youth today, especially through Word and Sacrament,” Fr. Aaron said.
Congratulations to Fr. Joe Thong on his new role as General Chaplain for the VEYM in America. May God send many blessings upon him so that he will always have a great love for the youth and be faithful in assisting them to have great relationships with our Holy Redeemer through the love of the Eucharist and love for the People of God.
Anthony Nguyen, C.Ss.R. / courtesy of Denverlink, an issue of September 8, 2023.