09/09/2009, 00.00
VIETNAM
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About 20,000 people take part in consecration of new Phat Diem bishop

by J.B. Vu
Mgr Joseph Nguyen Nang goes back to his native diocese, which he fled in 1954 when the country was divided. For the past two years Phat Diem had no bishop. The new prelate chooses “Commune and Serve” as his motto.
Phat Diem (AsiaNews) – At least 20,000 worshippers took part yesterday morning in the consecration ceremony of the new bishop of Phat Diem, 56-year-old Mgr Joseph Nguyen Nang. Representatives of other religions were also present at the event which was held in the city’s cathedral. The new bishop, who was appointed by the Pope on 25 July, chose as his Episcopal motto “Commune and Serve” as the pillars of the life and mission of the Church.

Mgr Dominic Nguyen Chu Trinh, bishop of Xuan Loc, presided over the celebration along with 20 other bishops and 400 priests from across the country, in the presence of many worshippers and women religious.

Mgr Cosma Hoang Van Dat of Bac Ninh pronounced the homily. In it he stressed that Jesus did not come “to be served but to serve,” establishing “the Church and its disciples as servants”.

“We are invited to live the Church’s miraculous commune by becoming as one, in unity and co-operation with our bishop,” he told those present.

The stress on unity was made because the diocese has not had a bishop for the past two years.

Mgr Joseph Nguyen Nang was born on 24 November 1953 in Yen Khanh (Ninh Binh province), in the diocese of diocese of Phat Diem, about 130 kilometres south of Hanoi.

When Vietnam was divided in 1954 he and his family fled south to Xuan Loc, where he lived until now.

Mgr Nguyen Nang trained at Da Lat College (1970-1977) and was ordained priest on 9 June 1990.

He has served as parish priest in Thuan Hoa and as rector of the Saint Joseph Major Seminary in Xuan Loc (between 2006 and 2009).

The diocese of Phat Diem was created in 1901. At present it includes 981,000 people, 153,000 of whom are Catholic, divided among 65 parishes, which served by 30 active priests.

The area is also home to about 5,200 people who belong to the Muong Montagnard minority.

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