“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who gave the growth.” (1Cr 3, 6-7)
50 years – the “Tree of the Holy Eucharist” in Viet Nam
To enjoy the fragrant flowers and sweet fruits from nature, plants, humans must generously cooperate in planting, nurturing, watering, plus favorable rain, wind and above all need the grace of the One who makes it grow. Similarly, when looking at and enjoying the sweetness and beauty of the flowers and fruits born from the plants, we associate with the “Tree of the Holy Eucharist”. When writing about the journey from planting and growing of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation tree on the land of Vietnam, we, those who live in later generations, see this tree has been carefully cared for by many generations of SSS fathers and brothers, following each other in the flow of history of the Congregation, spanning over the ups and downs of time.
The seeds has been germinated…
It is often said that "if you don’t know the past, you can’t understand the present, if you don’t understand the present then you can’t look to the future".
It is because of wanting to know, gratitude to the past and looking forward to the future that on the morning of June 11, 2023, after two days of regular training, brothers in the Province were present at the Provincial Chapel to listen to the sharing about the history of the formation of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation in Vietnam, under the guidance of Father Dominic Nguyen Dat Tam SSS, and Father Joseph Phan Ngoc Tro SSS.
Thanks to the valuable historical documents that they shared, the members, especially the young members in the Province, knew that before officially appearing as the first Blessed Sacrament community in Saigon in 1973, they wrote letters to the Superior General of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation, with the desire to send people to Vietnam to “light the fire of the Blessed Sacrament” in their dioceses. However, due to the events of the time such as war, politics, society, it was only in 1973 that the Eucharistic community was first formed in Thu Duc - Vietnam.
The seeds has grown…
Indeed, the good achievements always seem to start from the hardships and sacrifices of the early days of establishment. From the difficulties due to historical events, or having to face the reality of life in a new era, many generations of SSS fathers and brothers who have the desire to ignite the Eucharist on the homeland of Vietnam, since they were still living and working abroad, have not hesitated to work hard to build, preserve and develop the heritage of spirituality and Eucharistic life. Despite hardships they do not give up, difficulties do not discourage but still continue to have trust in God’s grace.
Now, 50 years have passed, the Holy Eucharist Tree has become more beautiful thanks to 11 new branches (communities) reaching out to different regions of the country, receiving nutrients for the tree to grow well, and also to transfer fragrant fruits to other brothers and sisters.
On the last day of the three-day regular training, and especially on Sunday of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, June 11, 2023, Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang was present and presided over the Mass, graciously granting the Holy See’s blessing to all the faithful who attended the Mass. Concelebrating with him were the Provincial superior, Fr Joseph Pham Dinh Ai SSS, the fathers in the Provincial Council, the fathers and brothers from the communities. Moreover, the Mass also had the presence of all members belonging to the great family of St. Eymard, such as the sisters of the Congregation of Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, the sisters of the Servitium Christi society, the members of the SSS Aggregation, and a large number of the other faithful.
In the Homily, Archbishop Joseph shared “The Eucharist is the divine food, it is Jesus Christ himself who nourishes human beings on the way back to Heaven, therefore whoever receives the Eucharist then receives the promise of the One who has decided that He will give them glorious resurrection. When receiving the Eucharist, human beings are transformed, absorbed to become like Jesus Christ. The Church through all ages has always placed and honored the Eucharist as the central sacrament, and the pinnacle of the whole Church. Brothers and sisters, let us come to the sacrament of the Eucharist, receive and worship Jesus Christ in the Eucharist”.
At the end of the Mass, the Provincial Superior, on behalf of the Congregation and the community of the faithful, sent to the Bishop a word of gratitude: “Your presence is like the symbol of unity in the Church of the brothers and sisters who share the same baptism, like the face of a merciful and compassionate God among His people. With the permission and care of the Bishop, the Blessed Sacrament Congregation has developed and cooperated with the diocese in the common mission of the Church.” Extending the joy on the day of celebrating the Congregation’s feast, there was a fraternal meal of the members of Father Eymard’s children with the Bishop of the Diocese in a cheerful and warm atmosphere.
Gratitude and wishes
“A tree with the good roots will bear the strong and green branches, water has sources to make wide lakes and deep rivers”. We give thanks to God, the Source of everything, who always accompanies and protects the Congregation. We are grateful and remember the predecessors who have contributed to building the pioneering communities. Stopping after 50 years to look back, perhaps what all of us can easily recognize is that the imprints of time are covered on each stage of the Vietnamese Province’s journey. The more we look back the more deeply we understand about challenges and difficulties, as well the intense vitality of the Province, still walking in the company and union with the Church, overcoming the upheaval of history.
50 years is not so long time, but it is enough for us to realize that is like a reward from God for each brothers’ efforts. Although we are satisfied with the present facilities and the number of members, each of us is aware all the time that “A community does not exist for its own sake, but aims at being a setting for seeking God in order to reveal his love to people” (RL 10).
May our Lord, through the intercession of our Lady of Blessed Sacrament and founder, St Peter Julian Eymard, help us being faithful in our founder’s charism, following him in the ideal of serving God and making the glory of the Holy Eucharist known to every people. “I vow to spread your name, so that all brothers know” (cf. Ps 22,23).
Fathers Jos. Nguyen Van Son SSS
and Jos. Nguyen Bao Quoc SSS