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Diocese of Kon Tum

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Diocese of Kon Tum
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In a land area of 25,110 square kilometers, the diocese's territory covers two provinces of Gia Lai and Kon Tum.


As of 2016, the population was 1,833,200. The diocese has 40 minority ethnic groups. Most of residents are farmers.


Vietnamese, various minority dialects are in use.


In 1850 foreign and Vietnamese missioners started to evangelize tribal groups in Kon Tum province. They established many missionary centers that still exist so far. They also trained tribal catechists and clergy to work with local tribal villagers. Many tribal villagers converted to Catholicsm.

French Bishop Martial Jannin, the first bishop of the local Church, built Kontum missionary seminary (1935-1938). The timber building is still in the compound of the Bishop's House house and displays old items, maps, musical instruments, tools used by late missioners and tribal groups.

Missioners transcripted some tribal languages into Roman script and translated the Scriptures into tribal languages. They also composed bilingual dictionaries.

Missioners built an electricity hydro power plant and irrigation systems for local people to grow crops.

Kontum vicariate was erected on Jan. 18, 1932. At that time it had 24,525 Catholics served by 29 foreign and Vietnamese priests and 160 ethnic catechists.

Bishop Jean Sion, the second prelate of the vicariate established a congregation for tribal women in 1947. He also established a local major seminary in 1946.

The vicariate was elevated to a diocese after the establishment of the Vietnam Church Hierarchy on Nov. 24, 1960.

Bishop Paul Seitz and other foreign missioners were forced to leave the diocese after the country was reunified under communist rule in April 1975.

Bishop Alexis Pham Van Loc, the first Vietnamese prelate of the diocese, served the local Church until he retired in 1995.

During that time, many Church facilities were confiscated or closed by the government, Chruch activities were limited, local ethnic villages had no resident priests.

In recent years the diocese provides healthcare, education and accommodation for ethnic minority people with leprosy, orphans, people with physical disabilities and gives hostels and vocational skills for poor young people. It also develops welfare projects so as to improve material and spiritual life of local people, especially tribal groups who live in poverty.

The diocese also aims to train tribal catechists, clergy and Religious, and promote evangelization work among tribal groups as its top priority. Diocesan website:


Road systems connect the area with other cities and provinces. Pleiku city, capital of Gia Lai province, has a domestic airport, connecting the area with Da Nang, Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh cities.


The area has tropical monsoon with a rainy season (May-October) and dry season (Nov-April). It has an average annual temperature of 22-25 degrees Celsius and rainfall of 2,200-2,500 millimeters.


Mainly agriculture can be found in the diocesan territory. Rice, manioc, sugar cane, coffee, tea, pepper, rubber, cacao are cultivated. There are also factories processing coffee, sugar, cooking oil. It also has cement factories  wood furniture manufacturers. The area has many hydroelectric plants.


The diocese is located in the Central Highlands bordering Laos and Cambodia. It mainly consists of mountains, lowlands and plateaus. On average the area is 500 meters higher than sea level. The land is suitable for rice, pepper, tea, cashew, coffee and rubber trees.


Religion includes Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Bahai, Cao Dai and other indigenous faith traditions.


The diocese has various tribal cultures. The Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands was recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity on Nov. 15, 2005. The space of Gong culture consisting of gong instruments, performers, festivals, music, spreads over the Central Highlands provinces of Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Kon Tum and Lam Dong.

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