Bishop Dominic Dinh Mai Luong, the first Vietnam-born bishop to serve in the U.S., died Thursday, Dec. 6, at the age of 77.
He had served as an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Orange, one of the largest dioceses in the country, until his 75th birthday in 2015.
The future bishop was born Dec. 20, 1940 in Minh Cuong, about 50 miles from Hanoi in what was then French Indochina. He was the second of 11 children. The family was forced to move many times due to political instability, the Orange County Catholic reports.
He attended a French-Vietnamese school and then a minor seminary. In 1956, at the age of 16, his bishop sent him to the U.S. to continue his priestly formation. He would not return home until 1979 because of the Vietnam War.
Luong was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Da Nang on May 21, 1966 by Bishop James A. McNulty at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, N.Y.
After ordination he received a bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s degrees in biology and psychology. He taught biology at a junior seminary in Buffalo, where he also served as associate pastor at Saint Louis Parish.
He served many refugees in New Orleans, where he would become director of the archdiocese’s Vietnamese apostolate and became founding pastor of Mary, Queen of Vietnam parish. He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 1976.
He worked as director of the National Center for the Vietnamese Apostolate and directed the U.S. bishops’ pastoral care for migrants and refugees.
St. John Paul II named him a bishop in April 2003, as a response to the major growth of the Church in the Orange diocese and the growing numbers there of Catholics from Vietnam.
Bishop Luong had retired in 2015, but remained active at St. Bonaventure Church in Huntington Beach, Calif., which has a large Vietnamese community.
He had been writing a book on Marian apparitions in Vietnam and led the monthly Lectio Divina at St. Bonaventure.