A New Bishop for Parramatta!
It was announced today, 5th May 2016, that Pope Francis named our brother, Friar Vincent Long Van Nguyen, as the new Ordinary for the Diocese of Parramatta. Friar Vincent had been serving as Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Melbourne since 2011. The Diocese of Parramatta has been without a bishop since Anthony Fisher OP was named the Archbishop of Sydney in September 2014.
Born in Gia-Kiem, Vietnam, in 1961, Friar Vincent was one of the many lucky “boat-people” that escaped communism to find a new home in Australia. He entered the Franciscan Order in 1983 and professed solemn vows in 1989, the same year as his priestly ordination. Afterwards, he was sent to Rome for further studies and was awarded a Licentiate in Christology and Spirituality from the Seraphicum University. He worked in parochial settings back home in Australia before being elected Custos General of his community in 2005. In 2008 he was chosen to be a member of the Franciscan General Curia serving as the Assistant General responsible for the Asia-Oceania region of the Conventual Franciscan Order. In May 2011 , Pope Benedict appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne.
Although it was only created as a Diocese separate from nearby Sydney in 1986, the City of Parramatta was established in the same year as Sydney, in 1788. At that time, Parramatta immediately became the bread basket for the infant Colony of New South Wales with its fresh water and good soil. A vibrant Catholic heritage began shortly afterwards. The first Catholic Mass celebrated in the Colony was offered on 15th May 1803 by Rev. James Dixon, a convict, on the very site of Parramatta’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The first religious profession in Australia took place in 1835 in the same church. The Diocese now hosts more than 50 religious congregations, and along with 47 parishes, 83 Catholic schools, and 120 priests, the Diocese serves a Catholic population of 330,000, one-third of the total population of the region.
Our Conventual Franciscan friars have been ministering in the area of Parramatta since 1968. Our friars serve in Kellyville at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish and its adjoining Shrine dedicated to the Holy Innocents. This region – “The Hills Shire,” the northern suburbs of the Diocese – is nicknamed the “Bible Belt” of Australia because it has the highest concentration of church-going people in the country (and now is also one of the fastest-growing regions in the country).
* The basic elements of the Diocesan coat-of-arms are a metaphor of the geography of the region. The western Blue Mountains and the Nepean and Hawkesbury Rivers are united by the central monogram of Christ the King.