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Dominican priest murdered while hearing confessions in Vietnam

Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh dedicated himself to serving ethnic groups in Kontum Diocese
Dominican priest murdered while hearing confessions in Vietnam

Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh was ordained in 2018. (Photo supplied)

Published: January 31, 2022 10:26 AM GMT
Updated: January 31, 2022 10:46 AM GMT

A young Dominican priest who was devoted to serving ethnic groups in Vietnam’s Central Highlands has been killed in a knife attack.

An informed source from Kontum Diocese said Dominican Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh, who provided pastoral care for Sa Loong Subparish in Kon Tum province, was stabbed many times while he was hearing confessions in the church on Jan. 29.

The source said Father Thanh died hours after being hospitalized. He was 40 years old.

The killer, who is reported to be a drug abuser, was arrested by local police.

“His death is a great loss to the local Church and Dominicans,” the source said, adding that the deceased priest offered his youth to God and other people, and he meekly obeyed God’s will.

Bishop Aloisius Nguyen Hung Vi of Kontum, who celebrated a funeral Mass for Father Thanh on Jan. 30, said he was stunned with grief by his sudden death. He never thought such a horrific story would happen before Tet, the Lunar New Year holiday.

The incident was painful but beautiful — people love the deceased father but have much pity on those who are controlled by evil

“We could not understand God’s plans except for offering our brother to him,” Bishop Vi said.

He noted that the real beauty of a priest is to die while offering pastoral care to people.

Dominican Father Paul Cao Thang said his confrere was extremely gentle and had good relationships with all people.

Father Thang said the Dominican priest, who took vows in 2010 and was ordained a priest eight years later, dedicated himself to serving ethnic groups in Kontum Diocese, where there is a relative lack of priests working in ethnic villages.

The diocese covering the provinces of Gia Lai and Kon Tum is home to various ethnic groups.

“The incident was painful but beautiful — people love the deceased father but have much pity on those who are controlled by evil,” said Father Thang.

He said Father Thanh’s departure reminds people to work together to make evil disappear from the world. “Please pray for us to follow your ministry,” he said.

On Jan. 31, Dominican priests held the funeral of Father Thanh after his body had been transferred to St. Martin de Porres Monastery in Bien Hoa. He was buried in a cemetery for Dominicans.

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