The Most Rev. Dominic Dinh Mai Luong, D.D., Bishop Emeritus for the Diocese of Orange, passed away December 6 at 77 years old surrounded by friends, family and brother priests. Bishop Luong, will be remembered as the first native-born Vietnamese Roman Catholic Bishop in the United States and for his passionate ministry helping to guide the faith journey of all Catholics in Orange County, Calif.
The young seminarian, who at 16 years old was sent from Vietnam to the United States to continue his formation as a priest, would ultimately be ordained a bishop. His appointment by Pope John Paul II to the office of episcopacy on April 25, 2003, was reflective of the enormous growth of the Catholic Church in Orange County and, more specifically, the burgeoning Vietnamese Catholic community in the region in need of a shepherd on the hierarchical level. The words on his coat of arms summarized his journey geographically and spiritually: ‘You are Strangers and Aliens No Longer.’
Then-retired Bishop Norman McFarland said of Bishop Luong’s appointment at the time: “This is a happening of major historical significance and brings the greatest joy to all.”
Bishop Luong, who retired in 2015, remained active in the Church while based at St. Bonaventure Church in Huntington Beach, CA – a parish with a strong Vietnamese contingent. He told OC Catholic in a recent interview that he liked “to keep in contact with my people.”
Bishop Luong had been writing a book, “Mary of Vietnam,” a closer look at the numerous places the Blessed Mother has appeared in the country. He was also involved in a monthly Lectio Divina [‘Divine Reading’] at St. Bonaventure.
Bishop Tod D. Brown welcomed him and in his formal statement to the media noted: “Not only is he a person with deep spirituality and dedicated heart, but he also possesses well-honed leadership skills that will be very useful in his ministry here.”
For his part, Bishop-elect Luong acknowledged: “By calling me the first Vietnamese priest to the office of episcopacy, His Holiness in particular, and the Church in the United States in general, recognize the many contributions with which 400,000 Vietnamese Catholics, over 600 priests, and more than 500 religious have enriched the Church in the United States, especially in the area of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.”
Dominic Dinh Mai Luong was born on December 20, 1940, in Minh Cuong – about 50 miles from Hanoi – in the Province of Bui Chu in North Vietnam. He was the second youngest of the 11 children of Dominic Mai Ngoc Vy and Maria Pham (Khuou). His father was an official primarily involved in real estate transactions. The family, devout Catholics, belonged to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish.