June Theme, Respond

June 1, 2016

Join us this 2015-2016 academic year, as we take time each month to reflect on a theme as a learning community. Hear from faculty and staff in a personal reflection on the theme, as they consider how the concept applies to their life and work. See here for an overview of these themes, which will also be highlighted in each month's school e-newsletter.

The theme for our school community this June 2016 is "Respond." We boldly respond to our deeply personal call, contributing to a more just and humane world.

Download (& save or print!) a PDF of this June 2016 Calendar

Staff member Thuong ChuChe has written this month's personal reflection--speaking from the heart about her own life and spiritual perspective. Thuong is the staff Program Manager for the school's Economics & Pastoral Leadership Project. Learn more about her work here.

My Response

By: Thuong ChuChe

When I reflect on the theme of response I immediately think of how response is linked to a call or invitation.  As I reflect further on the theme, I notice several significant stories bubble up and each one illustrates a profound experience of response in relation to an invitation and within the context of grace breaking into my life. Pedro Arrupe, SJ’s short poem, entitled “In the Hands of God,” captures the essence of this for me:

In the Hands of God

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.
This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.

But now there is a difference;
the initiative is entirely with God.

It is indeed a profound spiritual experience
to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ

One of the significant stories takes me to Vietnam during a time before I was born.  When Saigon fell, my father was taken to prison by the Communist regime because he served in the South Vietnamese military, and as a result my mother was a single parent of my five young children.  On the day my father was taken away, my mother gathered my older siblings together on the street as our house was confiscated by the Communist officials.  My mother tried different ways to find out where my father was taken, but every effort she made resulted in disappointment.  Homeless with five young children and with no one who would be willing to reach out due to fear of being persecuted by association, my mother cried out desperately to God for His providence and help.

Every time my parents recount this story to me, they emphasized the key was God’s grace giving them the faith and strength to carry on each day until my father was released nine years later.  They truly felt God’s hands protecting and guiding them through the darkness and adversity. With grace, my mother responded by being faithful to her God, to her husband and to her children.  In the same way, my father kept his faith strong and hope alive by praying every day that he would be able to go home and take care of his family. 

Another significant story brings me to Spokane, WA, thirty one years later.  It was my graduation day at Gonzaga University, and I was surrounded by my parents, oldest brother, older sister, nieces, nephews, friends and many people who had supported me throughout my time at Gonzaga.  I recall an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the grace that had brought my family and me to that day. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college.  From my upbringing and the Jesuit, Catholic education I received from Gonzaga, I was inspired to give praise and gratitude to God by dedicating my life to serving others. 

After graduation, I had the privilege to go back to Vietnam to teach English as a Second Language for one month and to serve as a Good Shepherd Volunteer at an alternative high school in New Jersey for one year.  Service continues to be a lifetime commitment for me, and I strive to bring the spirit of service into every area of my life including work, family, and community.  I am blessed to have found my husband and best friend, Khoi, who shares the same desire to dedicate our “one wild and precious life” to service as a way to respond to God’s many invitations.  

Thuong with husband, Khoi

Thuong with her volunteer group