Diocese of Hai Phong
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In a land area of 9,079.1 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers whole of the coastal Hai Phong city, provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh and part of Hung Yen province. It borders with provinces of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang in the north, Ha Noi in the west, Thai Binh in the south and South China Sea in the east.

Population

Catholics in the diocese are Kinh or majority of Vietnamese. Most of people work as farmers and fishermen.

Language

Vietnamese is the official language.

History

The faith first came to the diocese in the late 16th century.

The Dominicans and members of Paris Foreign Missionary Society were the first missionaries who established first centers of faith in the diocese.

When Pope Alexandre VII established the first two Apostolic Vicariates of Dang Ngoai (Tonkin) and Dang Trong (Cochinchine) on Sept. 9, 1659, the area of what is now Hai Phong diocese had parishes of Xu Bac, Xu Doai, Ke Sat.

Apostolic Vicariate of Dong Dang Ngoai (East Tonkin), that was carved from Dang Ngoai vicariate in 1679, produced dioceses of Bac Ninh and Bui Chu. Dong Dang Ngoai vicariate was named Hai Phong in 1924 and elevated to Hai Phong diocese in 1960 after the Vietnamese Catholic hierarchy was established on November 24 that year.

The Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral was built in 1880.

After 330 years since the establishment of Dong Dang Ngoai vicariate in 1679, Hai Phong diocese has been served by 22 foreign bishops and four Vietnamese bishops.

Dominican Bishop Joseph Truong Cao Dai, appointed bishop of the diocese on Jan. 14, 1953, was its first Vietnamese bishop. At that time the diocese had 90 diocesan priests, seven Religious priests, 16 major seminarians, 61 parishes and 525 churches and chapels.

After French colonial troops were defeated by communists in the north in May 1954, most of local clergy, Religious, seminarians and 60,000 Catholics led by Bishop Dai fled to the south. Only eight priests, 10 seminarians, six old nuns and 54,617 Catholics remained in the diocese.

Religious activities of local Catholics were limited by the government for decades. Many clergy and seminarians were imprisoned or under house arrests and Church properties were confiscated.

Bishop Joseph Marie Nguyen Tung Cuong, who served the diocese in 1979-1999, sent hundreds of young people to study at state-run colleges and Church-run institutes in Ho Chi Minh city. Later many of them returned to study philosophy and theology in Ha Noi-based Saint Joseph Major Seminary and were ordained priests for the diocese. Others join local congregations.

Bishop Joseph Vu Van Thien, the fourth native bishop, built the bishop's house and re-establishes Catholic associations. He also invites religious congregations who used to serve the diocese to work there. Some Religious from Adorers of the Holy Cross, Dominicans, Dominican nuns, Redemptorists and the Blessed Sacrament work there.

In recent years the diocese has given priority to pastoral care for Catholic students and internal migrant workers, most of them youths from rural areas, so they can have a mature faith and avoid temptation and traps in society.

Local Catholics hope their clergy and Religious will bring a bright future to them.

Diocesan website: www.gphaiphong.org

Climate

Hai Phong has a tropical climate with seasonal variations according the monsoon period. The north-east monsoon lasts from November to March and the south-east monsoon lasts from April to October. Annual mean temperature ranges from 23-24 degrees Celsius while rainfall averages at about 1,600-1,800 mm per annum. Mean relative humidity is about 85-86%. The rainy season lasts from April to October.

Economy

Hai Phong City, 100 kilometers east of Ha Noi, has the north's largest commercial port built by French colonials in 1890, with many colleges as well as garment and footwear manufacturing companies.