Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - The faithful of the diocese of Vĩnh Long, Mekong Delta, are celebrating the arrival of the new bishop, Msgr. Peter Huỳnh Văn Hai. The priest, 61, deputy director and professor of philosophy at the major seminary in Can Tho, was appointed by Pope Francis on October 7.
The diocese was without a pastor since August 17, when Msgr. Nguyen Van Tân died. Finally, "we have a new shepherd - says student Đồng Tháp, - and the Good Shepherd can lead our church. We Catholic youth, students and academics, are very happy with this choice”.
Msgr. Peter Huỳnh Văn Hai was born May 18, 1954 in Ben Tre province, just south of Ho Chi Minh City. He studied at the minor seminary Vĩnh Long from 1966 to 1991 and was ordained priest on August 31, 1994. He followed his doctoral program at the Institut Catholique de Paris until 2004. Then he returned to Vietnam, where for four years he was responsible for religious vocations in the diocese of Vĩnh Long. Since 2012 he has held academic positions in the major seminary.
The diocese of Vinh Long, founded in 1938, is quite large: it covers a rural area of nearly 7 thousand square kilometers, home to about 4 million people. Catholics number almost 200 thousand (4.5%), including 176 priests, 60 seminarians and 471 catechists.
The area extends to the delta of Vietnam’s longest river (Mekong) and comprises four provinces: Bến Three Trà Vinh, Vĩnh Long and Sa Đéc. One of the most serious problems of the diocese is the phenomenon of urbanization, which has deprived the area of the younger generation who head to big cities in search of employment.
The majority of the population is Buddhist, but they coexist peacefully with the Christian community, respected for their charitable work. "We are proud to live here - say some students - where there is the blood of the Vietnamese martyrs. There are two martyrs who come from our diocese. This strengthens our faith, helping us to live in communion with each other. "