Bishop John Do Van Ngan will be the sixth bishop of the 56-year-old Diocese of Xuan Loc. (Photo: hdgmvietnam.com)
The pope has appointed an auxiliary bishop to Vietnam’s largest diocese in terms of Catholic population while other dioceses are still vacant.
Archbishop Marek Zalewski, Singapore-based non-resident pontifical representative to Vietnam, announced that on Jan. 16 Pope Francis nominated Auxiliary Bishop John Do Van Ngan as bishop of the southern Diocese of Xuan Loc in Dong Nai province.
Father Joseph Dao Nguyen Vu, head of the Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, made the announcement.
Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao of Xuan Loc, local priests, seminarians and Catholics gathered at the Bishop’s House and congratulated Bishop Ngan and his mother Teresa Ta Thi Ngot, who brought him up and led him to the priestly vocation after his father died when he was three months old and she was 22.
Bishop Ngan, who now serves as head of the Episcopal Commission for the Doctrine of Vietnamese Bishops, will succeed Bishop Dao, who turns 76 in March. Bishop Dao, rector of the Catholic Institute of Vietnam and former head of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education, ordained Bishop Ngan in 2017.
Bishop Ngan, 67, who is also a taekwondo martial artist, studied in the Philippines, taught philosophy at Xuan Loc Major Seminary and served as vicar general of the diocese with one million Catholics whose ancestors moved from northern dioceses in 1954 after French troops were defeated by communist forces.
He will be the sixth bishop of the 56-year-old diocese, which is seen as the country’s stronghold of the Church.
The diocese has produced Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City and Bishop Thomas Vu Dinh Hieu of Bui Chu, the cradle of Catholicism.
The Vatican has not named any new bishops to Vietnam since the appointment of Bishop Joseph Nguyen Duc Cuong of Thanh Hoa in 2018.
The country has two vacant dioceses — Hai Phong and Phat Diem.
Other dioceses whose bishops passed the retirement age of 75 include Ha Tinh, Nha Trang and Thai Binh, which need new episcopal appointments.
Archbishop Marek said the pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Dao, who has served the diocese since 2013.
Vietnam has 7 million Catholics out of a total population of 96 million in 27 dioceses.