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Vietnam's oldest serving bishop marks 50 years of priesthood

Bishop Dinh Thuyen

Bishop Dinh Thuyen

Vietnam’s oldest serving bishop, who supported Catholics involved in a land dispute with the government, was lauded for his service to the Church during a recent celebration.

Eighty-three-year-old Bishop Paul Marie Cao Dinh Thuyen of Vinh diocese, the largest in terms of Catholic population out of Vietnam’s 10 northern dioceses, marked the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination on May 11.

Twelve bishops and 200 priests concelebrated the special Mass at Xa Doai Cathedral attended by 10,000 Religious and lay Catholics.

Bishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Thanh Hoa, vice president of the Vietnam Bishops’ Conference, told the crowd that Bishop Thuyen had promoted solidarity among Catholics in the north.

Bishop Linh noted how in 2008, Bishop Thuyen had told parishioners of Thai Ha parish in Ha Noi that the “issues concerning Thai Ha are also issues concerning Vinh diocese.”

Members of the parish had tried to prevent government authorities from selling a former Church-run plot of land near their church.

Bishop Linh also said that as a priest, Bishop Thuyen had bravely served the local Church after communists defeated French troops in northern Vietnam in the 1950s, and during the Vietnam War.

Catholics were discriminated against and the local Church’s activities limited, he recalled.

Bishop Linh noted that Bishop Thuyen now spends more time traveling to serve the nearly 500,000 local Catholics in 178 parishes than living at his own residence.

“We have to thank God who has kept Bishop Thuyen in good health to serve the local Church during the past 50 years,” said Bishop Linh.

Bishop Thuyen told UCA News that his top priorities now are to give priestly formation, build Church facilities and visit local Catholics. In the past 10 years, he had blessed over 100 new churches and founded several lay associations.

He plans to ordain 21 new priests on June 19.

Vinh diocese covers the provinces of Ha Tinh, Nghe An and Quang Binh.

Source: A/N