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ICC Note: Father Nguyen Thai Thanh, who escaped religious persecution in Vietnam as a young man, was appointed bishop for Orange Diocese in California. Father Thanh was born in 1953 in south central Vietnam. He entered St. Joseph Seminary in 1966 and studied at Da Lat University. However, when the country became subject to communist rule in 1975, father Thanh and other seminaries were forced into hard labor. In 1979, Father Thanh along with members of extended family boarded a small motorboat headed for Philippines. Due to severe weather condition, they spent 18 days at the sea without food and water before arriving safely to Philippines. After 10 months in a refugee camp, Father Thanh came to the United States in 1980.

10/09/2017 California (UCA News) – Pope Francis named Vietnamese-American Father Nguyen Thai Thanh, who escaped religious persecution in his home country by boat, as auxiliary bishop for Orange Diocese in the U.S. on Oct. 6.

Bishop-elect Thanh will support Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange and Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer in serving the spiritual needs of the diocese’s 1.3 million Catholics, including 100,000 of Vietnamese descent.

Prior to his new appointment, Father Thanh served at St. Joseph Parish of St. Augustine Diocese in Florida.

Bishop-elect Thanh was born in 1953 in Nha Trang City, south central Vietnam, and is the second oldest of eight boys and three girls. He entered St. Joseph Seminary in 1966 and studied at Da Lat University.

After the country was reunified under the communist rule in 1975, he and other seminarians were forced into hard labor in rice fields to be allowed to continue their studies.

In 1979 after suffering religious persecution, Bishop-elect Thanh along with 26 members of his extended family boarded a small motorboat and headed for the Philippines. They were soon engulfed by a tropical storm and spent 18 days at sea, several with no food or water before arriving safely in the Philippines. After 10 months in a refugee camp they left for the U.S. in 1980.

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