Diocese of Thai Binh
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General Characteristics of the diocese In a land area of 2,465.09 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers two provinces of Hung Yen and Thai Binh.

The diocesan territory lies in the Hong River delta and the land is crisscrossed by rivers. Hong River is the biggest river in the north and from China. The territory is crisscrossed by the river's tributaries that bring alluvium to the Hong River delta.

The diocese is bounded on the north by Ha Noi city and Hai Duong province, south by Nam Dinh province, west by Ha Nam province and east by Hai Phong city and Gulf of Tonkin.

Population

As of early 2010, the diocese had a population of 3,024,000. Most of them are farmers.

History

The diocese of Thai Binh was separated from the neighboring Bui Chu diocese and created as an apostolate vicariate on March 9, 1936. At that time the vicariate had 140,000 Catholics in 52 parishes and 522 subparishes served by 82 priests, 333 preachers and 302 Religious. During its vicariate period, it was headed by Spanish Dominican prelates. It was elevated into a diocese in 1960 when the Vietnam Church hierarchy was established on Nov. 24, 1960. The late Bishop Dominic Dinh Duc Tru became its first native prelate.

The local Church's activities were limited or banned and its facilities were also closed or confiscated by the government after 1954, when French troops were defeated at Dien Bien Phu battlefield. Most of seminarians, priests, Religious and 70,000 Catholics fled to the south to escape communists. Many local Catholics, Religious, seminarians and priests who stayed there were sent in prisons or labor camps and some were killed.

Bishop Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Sang, who became the fifth prelate of the diocese in 1990, legalized priests banned by the government, sent many priests to study abroad, built the new Cathedral replacing the old one built in 1906, rebuilt the bishop's house and provided money for farmers to grow their crops. He also rekindled traditions of Eucharist adoration and other lay apostolates among local Catholics. The Sacred Heart Seminary that reopened in 2008 provides priestly formation for local elderly seminarians.

The diocese's top priorities are to provide faith education for young people, offer scholarships and material support to students in rural areas, work with families and migrant workers, and do evangelization work. The diocese also pays much attention to provide formation for young vocations.

The diocese is suffragan of Ha Noi Archdiocese and its titular patron is Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Transportation

Roads combine the diocese with neighboring provinces. Diem Dien port is under construction.

Climate

The diocese has a season wind climate with two seasons - rainy season lasting from May to November and dry season lasting from December to April. The average annual temperature is 23.5 degrees Celsius, and the average yearly rainfall is 1,400-1,850mm.

Economy

Hung Yen lies on the road combining Ha Noi and Hai Phong city so it has many industrial zones producing clothes, shoes, cars, motorbikes and foods. The monthly per capita income was 828,300 dong (as of October 2010 US$42.47) in 2008.

Thai Binh province also has many industrial zones creating jobs for 31,500 local workers. The monthly per capita income was 778,500 dong (US$39.92) in 2008. Local people are expected to have an annual per capita income of 14.3 million dong (US$733) in 2010.

Various mineral resources such as gas, mineral water and coal are found and exploited in the diocesan territory in recent years.

Education

Thai Binh had 287,737 students studying at elementary and high schools in 2009.
Hung Yen had 184,640 students studying at elementary and high schools in 2009.

Culture

Thai Binh had 287,737 students studying at elementary and high schools in 2009.
Hung Yen had 184,640 students studying at elementary and high schools in 2009.

Hoi Chua Keo, taking place on 13-15 lunar September in Thai Binh, remembers Zen Master Khong Lo who was also a famous herbal physician. During the festival, people attend religious rites and hold cultural and folklore performance.

Hoi Den Dong Bang takes place seven days starting from 20 lunar August in Quynh Phu district in Thai Binh province. The festival remembers King Hung Dao Vuong and generals who governed the country in the 13th century. People compete in traditional games and give cultural performance.

Cultural performance depicting Mother Mary visiting Elizabeth.

Seminarians at Sacred Heart Seminary singing hymns.

Vietnam police harass Mennonite Christians

Vietnam police harass Mennonite Christians Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang, has appealed to the UN and other human rights organizations to help "put an end to the violence perpetrated by the police in Binh Duong against Mennonites".