In 1984 at the International Jubilee of Youth, Pope John Paul II asked “Who claimed that today’s youth has lost their sense of values? Is it really true that they cannot be counted on?” His questions inspired the launch of the well-known World Youth Day conference (WYD).
Likewise, the Vietnamese Youth Convention (VYC) was inspired by and held in honor of Cardinal Nguyễn Văn Thuận, who passed away in 2002. Ideas for this convention materialized a year later after his death as a blend of the WYD platform infused with the Vietnamese culture and Catholic faith. VYC is a three-day weekend spiritual gathering for youth and young adults from around the world to share, learn, and celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ.
What is VYC?
Recognized as one of the largest Vietnamese American gatherings in the United States, VYC is hosted every three years. It draws thousands of youth and young adults from many states and various countries including Australia, Canada, and France. During this bi-lingual celebration of the Catholic faith, participants learn and share in workshops and seminars with dynamic religious leaders on topics relevant to the youth. Topics have ranged from “Marriage and Family Life: Blessings and Changes” to “You fight, I fight, We ALL fight: Conflict Resolution, What Would Jesus Do?” to present day challenges “Linked? Networked? Friended? Texted? Let’s Talk About Being Really Connected” and to more cultural specific “Làm Sao Con Biết? How Do I Know?”
Workshops and seminars are designed with the intent to educate and inspire personal reflection—with hope that it will lead to a call to action: to build a stronger Catholic identity, to create a closer relationship with Christ, and to contribute to the advancement of the Catholic community. At VYC, participants have the opportunity to celebrate and strengthen their Catholic faith through fellowship. Participants also worship together through mass and musical concerts.
Where has VYC been held in the past?
|Year and Location||Theme|
|2003 – UC Irvine, CA||The Road of Hope|
|2006 – UCLA, CA||Bearer of Christ Love|
|2009 – Long Beach, CA||Be Not Afraid – Name, Claim, Proclaim|
|2012 – Cal State Fullerton||Walk with Me – Rediscover, Rejuvenate, Rejoice|
|2015 – Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma WA||In Christ Alone|
Would you explain to me the theme for VYC5?
Living in today’s society as a young adult can be challenging. It is hard to balance between school, work, and maintaining healthy relationships with those around you. And the list goes on and on; somewhere along the line one tend to break down. There are people that may either break down because life is too stressful, or it may be that their life isn’t going in the direction that they intend it to be.
Another possibility could be that a person could be so involved but deep down they have this sense of loneliness and despair. In moments like these, many of us tend to turn to those material goods to try and replace these feelings. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, addiction to pornography, or hanging out with the wrong group of friends; these feelings of satisfaction are only temporary. We may think that these materialistic things will make us happy and fill all those empty feelings that we have inside. But honestly, at the end of the day you’ll feel that empty feeling inside you once again, and there are instances where that feeling might be even worse than the first time.
We are so blinded with everything that society has misled us that we don’t even see what is in front of us. Instead of turning towards those things that can only provide temporary satisfaction, why not turn to the One that can fill that void in your life? And not just turn to him only when you need him, but realize that all you need is Christ. The theme of “In Christ Alone” sheds light and emphasizes how we need to turn away from sin and come home to God. “In Christ Alone” reassures that whatever it is that is making you feel empty, lonely or that void Christ will be the one that can mend those problems. At VYC 5 you will learn that Through Him, With Him and In Him there is nothing better than to bring all your troubles and worries with you and offer it up to the Lord so that “In Christ Alone” you will become renewed.
What is the impact of VYC?
The Vietnamese Youth Convention has many impacts on Vietnamese Catholic Communities around the world, both quantifiable and non-quantifiable. Since the inception of VYC 1, in 2003, we have witnessed some of God’s great and continued works for Seattle through the following:
- Formation of the Vietnamese Catholic Youth Group (Gioi Tre). The Seattle leadership team for VYC 5 is comprised of mostly previous participants of VYC. The purpose of this convention is to provide the opportunity for out-of-town participants to be transformed by the Holy Spirit and develop similar Gioi Tre groups in their home communities.
- Development of leaders in our Vietnamese Community. VYC provides a platform to ignite additional leaders in the Catholic community. For example in Seattle, there have been over 1,000 youth and young adults that participated in the following events:
- A monthly youth-led Vietnamese Catholic Youth Mass with special speakers.
- An annual camping trip for youth from different groups to meet and participate in activities.
- An annual Lenten retreat for all youth to gather and share their Catholic faith.
- A successful Confirmation program with leaders who were previous attendees of VYC.
- A growing and successful Eucharistic Youth Program.
- A strong and faithful group of Catechists.
- Catholic support of Marriage and Family. As the primary targeted age range for our participants are between 16-40, VYC presents the opportunity for young adults to meet others with shared Catholic and cultural values. While we do not track number of relationships that have been an outgrowth of VYC, we are aware of many families who had their introduction because of VYC and have seen their blessings.
- New perspective on religious leaders. Too often, the only exposure that our youth receive from priests, nuns, and religious figures are during Sunday masses. During the convention, priests and religious sisters lead smaller group discussions, the nuns play music as part of the evening entertainment in their “rock” band, and everyone are involved in activities. This creates an environment where the young adults are not as intimidated to approach these leaders and offers the opportunity for them to explore and reflect on the vocation and different evangelical approach.
- Being Catholic is “cool”: One of the most awe-spiring and life changing experiences at the VYC is the fellowship and community building with other Catholics from other states and countries. It is comforting, re-affirming, and powerful for youth and young adults to see, experience, and share in the connection with a much larger community of Catholic.
The vision for VYC is to have similar platform as WYD for Vietnamese Americans. The past four conventions have been held in Southern California. For the first time, VYC will be venturing out of the southwestern region of the US and instead hosted in Seattle, Washington from July 3rd through 5th, 2015, sponsored by the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish with support from individuals and organizations within as well as outside of the Archdiocese of Seattle.
Following VYC in July 2006, a group of Seattle attendees were inspired by the Holy Spirit to continue this spiritual journey through organizing activities for all Catholic youth and young adults in the Seattle Catholic Community. With the support of the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish, the Vietnamese Catholic Youth Group (Gioi Tre) was officially founded in 2009. The vision is simple: to deepen one’s relationship with God and share in a community of faith
Gioi Tre’s mission is to nurture Catholic Vietnamese-American youth and young adults between the ages of 16 to 40 to help them learn, serve, and grow through fellowship and common interests. Currently, there are 37 active members in leadership roles who plan, coordinate, and lead community-building activities and events that would strengthen the Catholic faith, individually and collectively. Gioi Tre has become a great resource and unifying presence for other youth groups and programs in the surrounding Washington State communities (Seattle, Olympia, Auburn, Tacoma, and Everett). Hosting the convention requires the collaborative efforts of many individuals and organizations, thus we reached out to the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish to sponsor VYC5, provide spiritual guidance, and connect with many priests, religious ministers, and speakers.
The Seattle area is home to global companies like Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon, as well as the 2014 National Football Champions, the Seattle Seahawks! More importantly, in 2015 Seattle will host VYC 5, “In Christ Alone”. VYC 5 will greatly involve the youth in the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish who have been eager to bring VYC to Seattle since 2006. With the support of the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish and commitment of the Board of Directors from Southern California, we are ecstatic to bring VYC to Seattle.