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Diocese of Phu Cuong
Diocese of Phu Cuong

In a land area of 9,543.35 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the whole provinces of Binh Duong and Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc province’s three districts, and Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi district. Phu Cuong diocese is bounded on the east by Dong Nai province, west by Long An province, south by Ho Chi Minh city and north by Binh Phuoc and Cambodia.

Population

In the diocesan territory, the population was 3,356,000 as of 2016. It has ethnic groups of Ba Na, Cham, Khmer, Nung, Phu La, Stieng, Tay, Thai and Xinh Mun. There are no available data.

Language

Vietnamese is mainly spoken in the diocesan territory. Ethnic languages are used within ethnic groups.

History

The area was a safe place sheltering Catholics from Catholicism persecutions during the 17th - 18th centuries, so Catholics from other places fled to this area. Foreign Jesuits and Franciscans worked in Lai Thieu parish that had 400 Catholics in 1747. Bishop Pigneau de Behaine moved a seminary from Chantaburi, Thailand, to the parish in 1789.

Phu Cuong diocese was erected on Oct. 14, 1965, separating from Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese. Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien, the first bishop of the diocese, built a minor seminary, a charity center, the bishop’s house and facilities for Religious. In 1974, the diocese had 50,494 Catholics in 49 parishes and subparishes served by 58 priests, 206 Religious and 30 major seminarians. The diocese also ran 50 schools and 13 charity centers.

After Bishop Louiis Ha Kim Danh died in 1995, the diocese was vacant until Bishop Pierre Tran Dinh Tu was named bishop of the diocese in 1998.

The diocese established the Catholic Red Cross association in 1993 and the Social and Charitable Actions Committee in 2003. Local Catholics provide food, clean water and health care for underprivileged people and patients, build houses for poor people, and offer scholarships to poor students. Local nuns work with people with leprosy, HIV/AIDS patients and hearing-impaired people. The local Church also gives accommodation for ethnic minority children from remote areas.

The diocese trains clergy and Religious to serve local people, especially do evangelization. It also plans to build charity centers and train Church workers to work with and improve ethnic groups’ material and spiritual life.

The diocese is a suffragan of Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese. Its new cathedral is under construction. Its titular is Body and Blood of Christ, June 11.

Transportation

Main modes of transportation include motorbikes, bicycles and buses.

Climate

The area has a tropical climate with two seasons - the rainy season lasts from May to November and the dry season from December to April.

The lowest temperature falls down to 19 degrees Celsius in December and January. The highest temperature rises up to 37 degrees Celsius in March-May.

Economy

The annual per capita income was as of the year 2009: 21,5 million dong (in Binh Duong, USD1,135 as of June 2010), 18 million dong (in Binh Phuoc, USD950 as of June 2010) and 23 million dong (in Tay Ninh, USD1,214 as of June 2010).

Most of residents are farmers who grow rice, sugar cane, pepper, rubber trees, cashew and fruit trees such as durians, mangosteen, rambutan.

Many young people work for foreign and domestic companies.

Religion

The diocese has followers of Buddhism, Christian and Islam and indigenous faiths of Cao Dai and Hoa Hao. Cao Dai is a syncretic belief system and Hoa Hao is a Buddhist sect.

Founded in 1926 and based in Tay Ninh province, Cao Dai has 700,000 followers or representing 70% of the province’s total population.

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