Bishop Dominic Dinh Mai Luong, DD (1940-2017)

Fri, Dec 15th 2017 10:40 am

Bishop Dominic Dinh Mai Luong, DD, who served for 10 years in the Diocese of Buffalo as a priest and went on to become the first Vietnamese-born Catholic bishop in the United States, died Dec. 6, 2017, in California. He was 76.

He was born Dec. 20, 1940, in Minh Cuong, about 50 miles from Hanoi, North Vietnam, to Dominic Mai Ngoc Vy and Maria Pham (Khuou). He emigrated to the United States at the age of 16 and studied for six years at the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary in Buffalo and St. Bernard's Seminary in Rochester. On May 21, 1966, Bishop James A. McNulty ordained him with the intention of having him return to Vietnam, but the war made him unable to visit his native country until 1979.

Instead, he continued serving in the Diocese of Buffalo early in his ministry as a priest. He taught at the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary, served as a chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Buffalo and was an associate pastor at St. Louis Parish, also in Buffalo.

After the war ended, many Vietnamese refugees fled to the United States, with a large number settling in the New Orleans area, so Archbishop Philip Hannan invited then-Father Luong to serve in his archdiocese. From 1976-83, he was director of a Vietnamese apostolate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and founded Mary Queen of Vietnam Parish. He went on to direct the the National Center for the Vietnamese Apostolate, and because of his service to migrants, he became the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' director of pastoral care for migrants and refugees.

After becoming a monsignor, Bishop Luong was called to Orange County in California, which also housed a large number of Vietnamese immigrants. On April 25, 2003, St. John Paul II made him auxiliary bishop of Orange, Calif. He retired in 2015, but remained active in the community of St. Bonaventure Parish in Huntington Beach, Calif.

At the time of his death, Bishop Luong had been writing, "Mary of Vietnam," a book on the Virgin Mary's relationship with and history in his home country.

A funeral Mass was held in memory of Bishop Luong in California.