from the Los Angeles Times: Bishop Luong
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- Subject: from the Los Angeles Times: Bishop Luong
- From: QCao009@aol.com
- Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2003 16:57:10 EDT
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FYI. Rosie & Edwina, Father Luong worked with us when we put the first
bilingual program on the Mississipi Gulf Coast under the auspices of the University
of Miami Lau center. My friends on the West Coast thought we were the Lao
Center. Years later, when Debbie Meibaum brought others to Gulfport and
Pascagoula, it was our community work that laid the groundwork and paved the way.
It is indeed great to see him make Bishop. Immigrants like him and
immigrants who are now coming here from Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, and
Haiti are the ones who make this country what it is today, not the demagogues who
preemptively try to sell democracy for oil elsewhere.
Milestone for Catholics
Vietnamese American Bishop Ordained in O.C.
By William Lobdell and Mai Tran, Times Staff Writers
Echoing the apostle Paul's words that "we are strangers and aliens no
longer," Dominic Luong was ordained Wednesday in Garden Grove as the first
Vietnamese-born Roman Catholic bishop in the United States.
The ordination of the Diocese of Orange's newest auxiliary bishop drew a
capacity crowd of 1,500 to St. Columban Church, including 34 bishops from across
the country and Vietnam. The event was carried on Vietnamese-language
television and radio.
At the end of the 2 1/2-hour ceremony, which ended with a Mass, Luong told
the crowd, "We have together recorded a historic moment" in life of the Catholic
Church in the U.S.
Luong's appointment is a source of pride for the Vietnamese community
nationwide, which views his ordination as a reflection of the rapid, one-generation
rise of Vietnamese immigrants in U.S. society.
"I'm surprised at all the people here for me," said Luong, who spent 28 years
as the pastor of Vietnamese Catholics in New Orleans, ministering to
immigrants since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. He is so popular there that a
street has been named after him. "But it's not just for me, but for the
Vietnamese people and the impression they've made on the church and community."
Ordination planners were told that 1,000 people from New Orleans, including
hundreds of Vietnamese immigrants, asked to travel to St. Columban. But limited
church seating allowed for a New Orleans contingent of only 266 — 40 of them
Luong, 62, is expected to be a unifying force in Orange County's often
fractious Little Saigon — with 141,000 residents, it is home to the largest number
of Vietnamese outside Vietnam. Though only about 30% of them are Catholic,
religious leaders of any faith are revered in the culture.
"This is a very joyful moment for all Vietnamese," said Sakya Bodhi, a
Vietnamese-born monk from the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Garden
Grove, who sat with several other Buddhist leaders.
As one of two auxiliary bishops to Bishop of Orange Tod D. Brown, Luong will
officially serve all the county's estimated 1 million Catholics. But much of
his value will be in the relationships he develops with its 32,500 Vietnamese
Catholics, much as the other auxiliary bishop, Jaime Soto, has cultivated a
leadership role among the county's Latino Catholics.
"This is one more indicator of the Asian-Pacific Catholic community coming of
age," said Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. "The
Vietnamese have had difficult journeys and enormous burdens and suffering, yet
their personal faith remains so vibrant. They are an inspiration to us all."
Vietnamese Americans represent fewer than 1% of the estimated 64 million U.S.
Catholics. Since 1975, however, about 350 Vietnamese American priests have
been ordained, the largest contribution to the vocation of any ethnic group.
Luong, born near Hanoi in 1940, is one of nine children. He came to the
United States to attend seminary in upstate New York. He ended up staying,
developing skills as a liaison between Vietnamese immigrants and the U.S. government
and other institutions.
Luong is the second Asian American named as a bishop. Last year, the pope
appointed Ignatius C. Wang, of Chinese descent, as an auxiliary bishop in San
The ceremony opened with a procession of 180 priests that lasted seven
minutes. Among the crowd of onlookers was Luong's older brother, a priest in
The ordination included hymns, prayers and Scripture readings in English,
Vietnamese, Spanish and Latin, and ended with Luong receiving his bishop's ring,
shepherd's staff and miter from Brown. He and the two bishops who traveled
from Vietnam for the ordination hugged one another tightly in front of the altar,
bringing tears to many in the crowd, who were mostly of Vietnamese descent.
Soto said the ordination is another example of how the Catholic Church has
been a leader in Orange County in diversity and integration.
"What we have become, Orange County can be," he said.
As the Mass ended, Luong walked down the aisle of the church, bestowing his
first blessings as bishop. The faithful scrambled to the ends of the pews to
kiss his new ring and shake his hand. At 5 feet, 3 inches, he is a head shorter
than the two bishops flanking him during the procession.
Outside the church, the new bishop sat in a brown leather chair to pose for
pictures. The long line of people waiting to be photographed with him —
including women dressed in ao dais, or traditional silk tunics and pants — soon
snaked through the church campus. Many admirers brought gifts and cards.
Hue Tran came from San Jose on a bus full of Vietnamese Americans wanting to
see Luong's ordination. They didn't realize until they arrived that they
needed tickets. They settled for watching the ceremony on a television screen in
"We're very proud," Hue said. "It's never happened before."
Tran's 42-year-old daughter, Hoa Vuong, visiting from Vietnam, also made the
trip. She said that if everyone from Vietnam could go to the ordination, they
Robert Nguyen, 50, of Burbank gave Luong an envelope stuffed with $200,
overdue payback for a $150 loan made nearly 40 years ago. Luong, a college chaplain
in Buffalo, had given Nguyen tuition money in the 1960s when he had financial
"We were under his wings," Nguyen said. "He took care of us."
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