Vietnam: two days of vocational festival
“All is Grace”
“We believe that vocation is an interior attraction felt by the person, coming from her personal relation with Christ, with the Father, thanks to the Spirit. A free initiative of God, and a free response of the person. It is the Lord who calls. We have to believe with all our strength that we can collaborate with this call. The Lord who makes covenant with us, today makes a promise. Gn. 15:5 “Raise your eyes to the heavens and count the stars, thus will be your descendants”. We know that today this promise is being fulfilled for us, by a small number, but it is being realised, even modestly. We are happy to be LSA and we wish to share this happiness. (Assembly of the congregation, April 2019, call to religious life.)
We made a plan to organise a “festival of vocations” with the young women, to present our congregation to them and to have been able to realise this plan is a grace.
From the very beginning we felt the presence of the Lord, to accompany us, to guide us and to support us. He has given to each Little Sister the strength, the will and the energy to realise this project. All was favourable for us: the weather was particularly good on those days, no rain, not too much sun, not too hot, and there was the enthusiasm and dynamism of the two communities, the friendly attention of the parish priest, coming to celebrate the opening mass, and the participation of about 20 young people from different places. We went from surprise to surprise during the preparation stage, which had been carefully thought out, with great attention to details. We were ready with all the fervent desire that this vocational festival would work out well. The young people joined us and took every opportunity to participate, actively following the proposed programme, showing absolute confidence in the Sisters, and wishing to profit to the maximum of this precious time.
The young people were specially touched by the Sisterly closeness of the Sisters, the openness, the warm and joyful friendliness, especially seen in the service and attention to each one. They exclaimed “It is so great to love!”
In these two days, the range of colours were principally radiant smiles, enthusiasm, and dynamism.
With the young people we were able to visit poor families that the Little Sisters met in the course of the year. On hearing of the visit of the young people, these families waited impatiently, ready to welcome them with joy. This festival of vocations concluded in fraternal love, and with links of more profound solidarity between the young and the congregation and between the young ones themselves.
Here are some aspects of their sharing at the time of the vocational festival:
One young person, aged 27 years, Ý Nhu, who is preparing to come to the Little Sisters said: “The Sisters are truly simple! The apprehension and the sensation of fear which made me tremble and sweat, has disappeared, because everyone is so simple and very friendly.”
The first evening
The first evening: A meal rich in fraternity, each one introduced herself simply, and everyone was joyful. Myself, I was happy and felt lucky to be able to come here, and to meet all the others…The whole meal was prepared by the Sisters in charge of the communities! “he who would be great among you will become your slave” (Matt.20:26-27)
*We watched a film: Saint Bakhita: Sometimes I found myself in this film. Our saint said “If I were to find the people who kidnapped me, or even those who tortured me, I would go on my knees to kiss their hands, because if these events hadn’t taken place, I would not be a Christian, nor a Religious.” I believe that if all the world thought like Saint Bakhita, then the world would be without hate, isn’t that so my God?
Remind me always that all that I do is for your Glory and for love of my neighbour; thus I will be happy on the path I have chosen. The word that I feel echoing in me and that I can say during these two days of encounter, of JOY. In all of the activities, one heard the laughter, of JOY, of HAPPINESSS, and of PEACE…
The first morning was taken up with the discovery of Vocation. One question that was posed: “What would the world become in the absence of women and men religious? “I think that the world would lack the joy and the hope of life; few people would want to do the humble jobs… Pope Francis has said “There, where there are women and men religious, there you will find joy” because these are the people who give joy.
The afternoon it is the discovery of the religious life: I went to three workshops. I have to tell you, Lord, the talent and creativity of these Sisters! Thus the 3 workshops concerned were:
Community Life: speaking of the life of each member. The image representing that was the Trinity. I was able to see that each member of the community is unique, coming from different places, speaking different languages, and talents and interests which differ, but there is a mutual acceptance in order to live in sisterly love. And it is the love of Christ which gathers these consecrated persons in community, by their vows, for the sake of the Reign of God in the world.
Prayer Life. With a common activity with “modelling clay”. Each even with a different work, meets with the difficulties and the temptations to power. The person who can resolve these and who is the source of marvellous consolation is the Lord. I am happy to have a Master who teaches me to pray. I’ve said that the Sisters live very united to Christ, they are very humble, and simple in their dress, and in the way they live. They are very “beautiful” to see. God alone is faithful eternally.
The Mission. The Sisters of the community help each other in the mission, thanks to the talents given to each one. I learnt solidarity and sisterly love, “to give freely, to work and not to seek for rest” “seek to love the other more than to be loved”, “seek to console the other rather than to be consoled”.
The evening was very joyous with different spectacles and ended by prayer, illuminated by candles. In this sacred moment of recollection, I thought of the life of each one of these Sisters, a holy life, without ostentation, the sacrifices made quietly, without worrying about celebrity…they are joyful, believing that the Lord is with them, they are not alone because the Lord loves them and they have sisters who accompany them. I felt that each one here, with her mission, is at peace.
The second day
The second day, it was an extraordinary day for me, I was able to meet the families of handicapped persons. I was very moved and I cried. I discovered that on this earth there are a lot of people less fortunate than me. And all that I inherited until now, it is as if the Lord has prepared me to offer myself to the life and to complete what is lacking.
The last afternoon: I have to thank God always. I love you too much Lord. I hope that there will be a half day so that each one can share her reflections. I was so happy.
At the end of this ‘festival of vocations’ each one has her own thought, her personal project. God alone knows it! For my part, I wished to stay calm and feel myself at peace, but there was something that pushed me to commit myself. Lord give me your Holy Spirit who enlightens me and who shows me the essential: the Glory of the Lord, and after I will search for a way of life adapted to your service.
“The fruits that I have received is the love of each one. I was able to recognise the sacred Mission that Christ has given to the Sisters for the service of the poor”.
“Thank you for giving me the favourable conditions so that I can ponder, reflect, to live community life, the mission, the prayer, the vocational path that I am following. Particularly the film, and the Taizé prayer… made me cry. The presence of God, the support, the mutual love between us…clarifying and consolidating my path of the following of Christ.”
Sr. Tuyen Nguyen, LSA –Vietnam