The Most Rev. Dominic Luong, who held the distinction of being the first native-born Vietnamese Roman Catholic bishop in the United States and made his mark ministering to refugee and immigrant communities nationwide, died from a lengthy illness on Wednesday, Dec. 6. He was 77.

Luong was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange by Pope John Paul II on April 25, 2003.

Dominic Dinh Mail Luong, the second youngest of 11 children, was born Dec. 20, 1940 in Minh Cuong, about 50 miles from Hanoi. As a young seminarian in the Diocese of Bui Chu, Luong was sent to the U.S. in 1956 to continue his education.

However, he had trouble returning home to see his family because of the political instability in his country and did not get to see his family again until 1979.

Luong was ordained to priesthood in 1966 in New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s degrees in biology and psychology. He then returned to junior seminary in Buffalo where he taught biology and served as a chaplain to St. Francis Hospital.

When a wave of Vietnamese refugees began to make their way to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon and the communist takeover in 1975, Luong was transferred to New Orleans where a large number of refugees were landing. He served as the Director of Archdiocesan Vietnamese Apostolate there from 1976 until 1983, when he became the founding pastor of Mary Queen of Vietnam parish.

He continued to travel around the country, helping Vietnamese immigrant groups. His work with refugees and immigrants earned him the title of Monsignor bestowed on him by Pope John Paul II.

In 2003, Luong was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange, covering an area which is home to the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam. He retired in 2015, but remained active as bishop emeritus based at St. Bonaventure Church in Huntington Beach, which has a significant Vietnamese membership.

Recently, Luong attended a news conference where Bishop Kevin Vann introduced newly-appointed Vietnamese auxiliary Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen who is set to be ordained Dec. 19.

From Orange County Register.