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 Đỗ Văn Ngân as bishop of the southern Diocese of Xuan Loc in Dong Nai province.
Father Joseph Đào Nguyên Vũ, head of the Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, made the announcement.
Bishop Joseph Đinh Đức Đạo of Xuan Loc, local priests, seminarians and Catholics gathered at the Bishop’s House and congratulated Bishop Ngân and his mother Teresa Tạ Thị Ngọt, 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 Ngân, who now serves as head of the Episcopal Commission for the Doctrine of Vietnamese Bishops, will succeed Bishop Đạo, who turns 76 in March. Bishop Đạo, rector of the Catholic Institute of Vietnam and former head of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education, ordained Bishop Ngân in 2017.
Bishop Ngân, 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 Nguyễn Năng of Ho Chi Minh City and Bishop Thomas Vũ Đình Hiệu of Bui Chu, the cradle of Catholicism.
The Vatican has not named any new bishops to Vietnam since the appointment of Bishop Joseph Nguyễn Đức Cường of Thanh Hoa in 2018.
The country has two vacant dioceses — Hai Phong and Phat Diem.