Vietnam – Thirty-five Brothers of the District of Vietnam held their annual retreat 11-17 June 2016. This first group of annual retreatants assembled in the Thien Phuoc Cistercian Monastery of Mary, Vung Tau Province, Diocese of Ba Ria, Vietnam.

During the week-long retreat, the Brothers focused their reflection, prayer and sharing on the pastoral letter 2015 of Brother Superior General, Robert Schieler. The theme was “A Gospel Adventure: Outside the Camp.” The retreat provided an excellent opportunity for Brothers to spend time living with God and with their fellow Brothers after a busy school year.

Inspired by Exodus 33, 7 which speaks about people of God encountering Him “outside the camp”, Brother Robert Schieler wrote in his pastoral letter that: “Outside the camp” is where we meet God: outside the institution, outside culturally conditioned perceptions and beliefs. “Outside the camp” God speaks to us “face to face” (Ex 33:11). It is “outside the camp” where we encounter the other who is different – and discover who we are and where our home really is.” He invited all the Brothers to “take a moment and step outside our personal camps and in all humility ask God to speak to us.”

Within the peace of the Monastery, the Brothers truly met God deeply in their deep hearts, listened to His voice and welcomed His invitation to go “outside the camp” in spreading the Good News to youth.  This was also an inspiration for the Brothers to devote themselves totally to God’s providence and to let Him drive their life in the gospel adventure to meet God “outside the camp.”

At the end of the retreat, Brother Andrew Ho Quoc Thang, Auxiliary Visitor gave new assignments for some Brothers on behalf of Brother Visitor.  Brother Andrew also witnessed the renewal of vows for 14 young Brothers of the District during a special mass at the conclusion of the retreat. He invited all Brothers to go down from the “mountain” to meet God “outside the camp.”

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