For girls or for God?

Thiếu Nhi Thanh Thể is a Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement that focuses on getting youths closer to God, but some use it to meet girls and find dates.


by Trang Nguyen, Breaking News Editor

Sunday, 7:30 a.m. I dash out of bed and jump into the shower. My Thiếu Nhi Thanh Thể uniform lies on my bed, ready to be worn for another eight hours. After putting on the navy blue skirt and white button-up, I tie the brown scarf, my soul, around my neck. As I look in the mirror, I question myself, “Why am I in this Movement?”

Thiếu Nhi Thanh Thể (TNTT) is a Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement controlled by the Catholic church. According to their official website, their purpose is to: “educate and train youths in becoming a better person and an excellent Christian and to organize and guide all youths in spreading the Good News of the Gospel.”

With multiple movements throughout the United States, the groups nationwide try to meet up occasionally to have large retreats. One annual pilgrimage called Marian Days is a celebration of Mary that is held at Carthage, Missouri. It gathers lots of Vietnamese together, with a large amount of teens. Lots of the people go to pray to Mary and recognize her life, but I think some teens treat the pilgrimage as a dating hotspot.

Beginning when you hit about the age of 14-19, lots of teens in TNTT begin to go to religious retreats to “grow closer to God.” Yet, I’ve seen the opposite countless times. Teens who do not attend mass because they only need Sunday obligation, or they go because they want to meet girls. Why would I be in an organization for God when it’s just to find yourself a date?

I confess that there have been times that I go to retreats to make new friends out-of-state because I love the thrill of meeting new people who share my religious interests. But recently, I realize that many do not go for the religious facet. Yes, the aspect of meeting new people is luring and a factor that should push one to go, but it should not be the main reason.

As a person who has experienced this before, my older brother, a leader in TNTT, actually believes that this is how commitment to the Movement gets started. He thinks that it gets you more active as a member and that in turn increases the amount of people you meet. Getting to knowing more people is the initial reason most people join TNTT.

As for me, I think praying and having a connection with people you do not is a strangely intimate moment. It’s praying with strangers that draws me to this Movement.

It’s that one moment at a praise concert where they’re singing “Oceans” and you’re singing and swaying with all your being and the person next to you is doing the same thing. That raw moment where you’re both just real and praising the Lord as a small voice among the booming speakers is why I’m attracted to TNTT.

Finding a Catholic connection in close family and friends is difficult because you’ve known them since childhood. To sing so openly and whole-heartedly without worrying about judgment is a raw rejuvenating feeling, and I think this is why people so desperately want to meet others through TNTT.

Although there is a problem with some in the Movement who go simply just to meet others, I think meeting others is a means to get closer to God because God is in other people. He does not want us to just pray but to see the world He’s made for us and spread that Christian passion. Meeting people to make connections for God is why I think people are so desperate to be TNTT, and why I myself am interested in the Movement.