In the summer of 1985, a few of our past Đoàn Trưởngs sat down and remembered all of the good memories spending time in Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể back in Việt Nam. Amist all the laughter and chatter, a growing desire was burning within them to share their knowledge and spread their joy. They decided then and there that they will begin a chapter of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society here in the small town of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Our đoàn started out as a small group of dedicated 'leaders' and a handful of young kids. As we strive to assimilate into the American society, we were ever more determined to keep our Vietnamese heritage. Keeping that balance was difficult and at times we failed miserably. However, our first Tuyên Úy, Father John Rebold, kept us going and provided us with spritual guidance and strength. At times when our đoàn was on the brink of collapse, Father John always reassured us and kept our dedication to TNTT going strong.
Through the late 80's and early 90's as hairstyles got taller and crispier, as our pants got baggier and baggier, our đoàn grew in strength and number. We also began to get more organized and structured. Through the guidance of our past Đoàn Trưởng; Anh Tịnh, Anh (Cha) Trí, Chị Hoa, Anh Pháp, Chị Hương, Anh Sinh, Anh Phong, Anh Hạnh and our present Đoàn Trưởng, Chị Phương, our đoàn is as strong as it ever was.
Our kids demand more and more and our Huynh Trưởngs come up with better and better ideas. It is just the sign of the times. Who would think back in the 80's that we would be driving 15 miles from trạm to trạm in our Trò Chơi Lớn? We still have our ups and down, but looking back through the years, nothing has bring me more joy than to participate in our đoàn activities.
The Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society (VEYS) is a non-profit organization under the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. We aim to teach youth to become virtuous people and good Christians as well as offer apostolate service opportunities for youth. Throughout its years of service, VEYS has strived keep pace with social and cultural changes of the present day in an attempt to reach out to the Vietnamese youth.
The Eucharistic Youth Society was founded in Europe during World War I and was known as the Eucharistic Crusade. Its purpose at that time was to pray, especially to the Blessed Sacrament, for the conversion of hearts and the reconciliation among the disillusioned youths affected by the War. Although the Eucharistic Crusade was founded by a Jesuit, Pere Bessiere, S.J., it was brought to Hanoi, Vietnam, by the Sulpicians in 1929. By 1951, it had spread throughout the whole country and became an organized association in the early 1960's.
In 1964, in keeping with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, the Vietnamese Eucharistic Crusade was transformed into the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society and was approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Government. This new transition integrated both prayer and apostolate services. From 1964 to 1975, the Society grew considerably in spirit and in number. In order to accommodate the growth of the Society, the first National Convention, "Promised Land I", was held in 1972. Over 2,000 coordinating leaders attended it. By 1975, there were about 140,000 members, under the leadership of 3,800 coordinating leaders serving in 650 parishes within 13 dioceses in South Vietnam.
With the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, the Society's activities ceased temporarily. However, with the waves of refugees fleeing to new homelands, the Society came to life again. The Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society is currently active in many different countries in the free world: Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States.
In the United States, there are about 15,000 members in seventy Vietnamese Catholic communities and parishes under the direction of 1,300 coordinating leaders and chaplains. In order to correspond to the growth and revival of the Society, "Promised Land II" was convened in July 1992 at Dominguez Youth Retreat Center, Dominguez, California.
Today, the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society joins hundreds of thousands of youth from all over the world to attend the Pope's "World Youth Day", August 1993, in Denver, Colorado.