In a land area of 24,600 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers five whole provinces of Bac Giang, Bac Kan, Bac Ninh, Thai Nguyen and Vinh Phuc, and part of Ha Noi city and provinces of Ha Giang, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Lang Son, Phu Tho and Tuyen Quang. The diocese is bounded in the north by Lang Son - Cao Bang diocese, in th east by Hai Phong diocese, in the south by Ha Noi archdiocese and in the west by Hung Hoa diocese.
Bac Ninh diocese had a population of nine million with a majority of Kinh. There were 600,000 people from ethnic minority groups.
In 1659, when Dang Ngoai, one of the first two vicariates in the country, was created, there were some mission stations of Ke Mot, Ke Ne, Ke Roi in the area called Bac Ninh. Bac Vicariate was established on May 29, 1883 after carved out from Dong Dang Ngoai (East Tonkin) Vicariate. The vicariate was served by Dominican missioners and named Bac Ninh Vicariate 1924.
After French troops were defeated by communist forces in Dien Bien Phu Battlefield in 1954, 47 priests, all seminarians and 40,000 Catholics fled to the south, leaving 14 elderly priests, 12 catechists, 11 nuns and 30,000 Catholics in the vicariate. 250 out of 300 local churches were destroyed.
The vicariate was elevated to Bac Ninh diocese in 1960 when the Vietnam Church Hiararchy was founded.
Local Catholics were served by two priests, one of them was ordained without government permission 1991-1993. The following year, two first priests were ordained for the diocese since 1954.
The diocese is now under the leadership of Jesuit Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat, the fourth Vietnamese prelate of the local Church.
Missions in the future
Religious activities were limited for decades under communist rule so the local tries to revive Catholic associations and faith education and practices among local Catholics, and train priests, Religious and lay leaders. Its top priority is to evangelize and re-evangelize in areas without priests.
50 local lay missioners work with ethnic villagers and provide faith education for Catholics who have abandoned the Church.
Bac Ninh diocese is one of 10 suffragans of Ha Noi Archdiocese.
Its titular is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary observed Oct. 7 and its secondary patron is Vietnamese Martyrs of Bac Ninh.
The website of Bac Ninh Diocese is available at: www.giadinhbacninh.com
Boats, buses, motorbikes and bicycles and railways transport goods and passengers within the diocese territory and to other places.
The diocese lies in a tropical region with a monsoon climate and four distinctive seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter. The temperature difference between sumers and winters is 15-16 degrees centigrade. The rainy season lasts from May to October.
Local people do business, work on farms or work for companies for a living. Their annual income ranges from US$730 to US$1,800.
The five provinces of Bac Kan, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Thai Nguyen and Vinh Phuc in 2009 had 375,830 elementary students, 314,996 secondary students and 188,811 high students.
The Vietnamese language is mainly used and local ethnic dialects are only used within ethnic communities.
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