Former Vietnamese boat refugee named to lead Australian diocese

Bishop Nguyen spent a week adrift at sea before being rescued

Vietnam
May 6, 2016
Pope Francis appointed a former refugee who had fled war-torn Vietnam by boat to lead the Australian Diocese of Parramatta.

Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, 54, begins his new role after ministering as a Conventual Franciscan priest in Australia since 1989 and auxiliary bishop of Melbourne since 2011. The Vatican made the announcement May 5, Catholic News Service reported.

Born in Dong Nai province in South Vietnam in 1961, he was one of hundreds of thousands of "boat people" who fled the fighting, tyranny and chaos that engulfed the region in the 1970s and 1980s after the Vietnam War.

"Our boat journey was risky. There were more people on board than the boat could carry safely. By the third day, we had run out of food, water and fuel. From then on, we were at the mercy of the elements. On the seventh day, we drifted near an oil rig, half alive and half dead," he said in an interview with the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference in 2015.

The bishop and the family members he traveled with were rescued and settled in a refugee camp in Malaysia, where he stayed for 16 months. He resettled to Australia in 1981.

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