The Diocese of Orange will welcome a new bishop, the Vatican announced Friday.
Bishop-elect Thanh Thai Nguyen of Florida has been appointed by Pope Francis to serve as an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Orange. He joins auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer, who was ordained in January.
“I am both humbled and honored to accept this appointment,” Nguyen said. “I am grateful to Pope Francis and to (Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin Vann) for their trust and confidence in me and I pray that I may live up to their expectations. My life continues to be blessed by the grace of God and I look forward to joining with my new family of faith in the Diocese of Orange.”
Nguyen will “provide important pastoral care and leadership” in the Diocese’s Vietnamese Catholic community, the largest in the country, according to Ryan Lilyengren, a spokesman for the Diocese.
“We are blessed as a Diocese to welcome such an experienced and passionate leader to journey with us in faith,” Vann said. “Bishop-elect Nguyen is loved greatly by his current congregation and has a reputation as a humble, competent and caring leader. These traits will serve our Diocese well as our community continues its growth — both in size and faith.”
Nguyen was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam in 1953. His seminary studies were interrupted by the Vietnam War in 1975 and he was “forced into hard labor in the rice fields to be allowed to continue,” Lilyengren said.
Nguyen fled the country with 26 other relatives in 1979 and headed for the Philippines. The refugees got caught in a tropical storm and spent 18 days at sea, including several days with no food or water, but they all made it to their destination safely.
After 10 months in a refugee camp, they went to Beaumont, Texas.
Nguyen continued his calling in the United States, eventually returning to his studies at Merrimack College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He entered into the La Salette Order in 1987 and then graduated from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology and was ordained in May of 1991.
He currently serves at St. Joseph parish in the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida.
–City News Service
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