St Patrick’s Cathedral East Melbourne will be the scene for the historic ordination of Australia’s first Asian-born bishop, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv on Thursday 23 June.
His ordination is expected to be witnessed by thousands at the cathedral, including many people from Australia’s proud Vietnamese community. Many more will watch the ordination online at www.cam.org.au, where it will be streamed live especially for the Vietnamese community in Australia and overseas.
Bishop-elect Vincent Long’s recent preparation for the ordination has included a visit to the tomb of one of the church’s greatest saints, St Francis of Assisi, in Italy, and a week long retreat after his return to Australia. He was 18 years old when he fled communism in 1980. He travelled in a 17m boat with 147 other people. After eight terrifying days, he and all 147 other people made it safely to Malaysia.
Bishop-elect Long has said that his vocation to the priesthood was confirmed for him in the refugee camp in Springvale, a suburb of Melbourne, where he first lived when he came to Australia. He lived his childhood in Vietnam in poverty and war and spent many nights bundled into a bomb shelter with his siblings and parents under their home.
In 1983, Bishop-elect Long became a Conventual Franciscan friar and studied for the priesthood in Melbourne.
Bishop-elect Long will be ordained a Bishop at a ceremony beginning at 7.30pm at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Principal consecrator Archbishop Denis Hart will be joined by co-consecrators Cardinal George Pell and Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia.
Nineteen other archbishops and bishops with hundreds of priests will concelebrate.
The head of the worldwide Order of Friars Minor Conventual, Minister General Father Marco Tasca OFM Conv will travel from Rome to assist the Bishop-elect at the ordination.
Members of Bishop-elect Long’s immediate family from Australia, Holland and Vietnam will be at the ordination, as well as members of Federal and State Parliaments.