Vincent Long Van Nguyen, OFM Conv.jpgThe Church in Melbourne, Australia saw the Holy Spirit
consecrate a former boat person turned Conventual Franciscan priest turn
auxiliary bishop on Thursday. The witness of his life is testimony of the hand of God leading. 

Vincent Long Van Nguyên is the first Vietnamese bishop in Australia and one of
three in the English speaking world. The USA has Bishop Dominic Mai Luong of
Orange County, California and Bishop Vincent Nguyên Manh Hieu of

Father Vincent Long Van Nguyên OFM Conv, is now an Auxiliary Bishop of
Melbourne holding the title of Bishop of Thala. But his personal narrative is

In 1981, Long was an 18-year-old refugee who arrived in Australia
knowing no English, having no personal connections with anyone, knowing nothing
of Australian culture. One can only say that 31 years ago Long was given the
gift of a new life in moving -with tremendous difficulty–from oppression to

Vincent Long Van Nguyên was at sea for seven days: “he left Vietnam on 11 August 1980, on the Feast of St Clare, and was at sea for the Feast of the Assumption on 15 August. The feast day was a very critical moment because after three or four days, the food had run out, the fuel had run out, the water had run out, and there was no possibility of survival because we were there in the middle of the ocean and the boat was just adrift. We just committed ourselves to the Blessed Mother; she was our only hope.”

Sensing a call to be a religious and a priest, Vincent joined the Conventual Franciscan friars because the friars were the ones to have shown he and his family great humanity in easing the transition from oppression to freedom, from inhumanity to dignity. He’s been trained by the Conventual Friars to be a friar, priest, superior and now they wil educate him to be a bishop. At heart he’s said he’s a friar. He is now one of 18 Conventual Franciscans serving the Church as bishop.

In speaking of his new vocation, Long said that this new ministry of the episcopacy is a great example “…of being chosen despite your background, or despite your unworthiness and limitations, or despite how other people see you.” His judgment of these events is “a call to risk all for Christ” and “a new way of giving myself.”

Vincent Long and Denis Hart.jpg

Mottos orient one’s focus. When a man accepts the epsicopal ministry (and sometimes any other ministry) he selects a phrase that defines his work and his heart. Bishop Long has chosen a phrase used by Blessed John Paul II in Novo Millennio Ineunte (2000) quoting Luke 5:2-6, where the Lord says to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch,” ‘Duc in altum.’ Setting oneself out to the deep has a variety of meanings: of vocation, of living the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, of having empathy and sympathy for the material and spiritually poor, of living closely to the Word and Tradition.

In Novo Millennio Ineunte John Paul said, “cannot justify a sense of complacency, and still less should it lead us to relax our commitment. On the contrary, the experiences we have had should inspire in us new energy, and impel us to invest in concrete initiatives the enthusiasm which we have felt. Jesus himself warns us: “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:62). In the cause of the Kingdom there is no time for looking back, even less for settling into laziness. Much awaits us, and for this reason we must set about drawing up an effective post-Jubilee pastoral plan (15).” As John Paul said, so now for Bishop Long.

According to Long, “‘Duc in altum’ above all means for me a call to risk all for Christ. It was as if my whole life was a series of invitations to venture into the unknown. When the Church called me to be a bishop, I accepted it in the conviction that it was a call to venture into a new depth, a new way of giving myself. A bishop must not be afraid to walk with his people in the new exodus to the fullness of life and love. It’s the place we can only reach with unwavering conviction and undying love for Christ and his people. I humbly ask you to pray for me your newly ordained bishop and all bishops to walk this path with fidelity and perseverance.”