Orange County Catholic was fortunate to have a conversation with Bishop Emeritus Dominic Luong the day after his retirement Mass at St. Columban Parish. We discussed his plans for retirement and his thoughts about the Diocese of Orange, where he’s served for more than a dozen years.
OCC: What do you plan to do in your retirement?
I’m trying to finish some of the work I’ve been planning for a long time. I’m writing a book about spiritual readings. I meet with a group of lay people every month in the Pastoral Center, where we read Scripture and contemplate and pray together. There’s a lot of practical knowledge people can gain from Scriptural text. Even those who don’t belong to a group can gain spiritual richness from Scriptural readings. Another book I want to write would spread the devotion of Our Lady of La Vang, who appeared in Vietnam more than 200 years ago. I was able to visit Vietnam recently and they are building big cathedrals and outdoor arenas dedicated to Our Lady of La Vang; some of them will accommodate up to 100,000 people. Many, many people already have received many favors through her. In the United States, of the nation’s 42 or 43 Vietnamese-American parishes, 15 or 16 have been named for Our Lady of La Vang.
As you look back on your career as a priest and bishop, what is the most profound thing you’ve learned about the Catholic people?
In few months I will have been a priest for 50 years. I have been a bishop for more than 12 years in the Diocese of Orange. I want to leave behind the knowledge that the Church belongs to everyone, not just to the clergy but even more so to its lay people. I hope that they can work collaboratively at the grassroots level in parishes to carry the message of Christ more effectively. Pope Francis has made a good example of this in this Jubilee Year of Mercy by advising us that we must be merciful ourselves by carrying on in the path of Christ. We make the face of Christ visible through the mercy of God. I pray, ‘Our lady of mercy, teach us how to be merciful.’
Do you have words of wisdom or thoughts you’d like to share with the Vietnamese Catholics in the Diocese?
In the past 30 to 40 years following the Second Vatican Council, Catholic Americans fell away from spiritual devotion. When Vietnamese-Americans arrived, they brought continued devotion, celebration of Church feast days, the Tet New Year and their habit of praying the rosary as a family every night. I would advise Vietnamese-American Catholics to add Scripture readings to their weekly devotions so that at Mass on Sunday they will be able to listen closely to God’s words. I would encourage them to carry on their faith not only in words, but also in deeds and actions.
Do you have any advice for seminarians as they prepare to serve the Diocese?
I’d like new seminarians to have more practical pastoral knowledge. We have a two-year internship that’s required before they finish their theological training, but perhaps even during their training they could work in parishes on weekends with good, wise priests to mentor them. That way they would learn more practical knowledge; they need practical pastoral theological training to serve the people better.
Is there something you’d like to be remembered for in the Diocese of Orange? What is your legacy?
The best remembrance would be that I’ve been a person who worked collaboratively with the Bishops and other members of the clergy to serve the goals of the Diocese. My legacy should be that I’ve always worked well together with others.
Do you have a spiritual message or piece of advice you would like to leave behind for the Diocese and its people?
My advice would be for lay people to continue to work together with clergy working to foster good communication to the entire Diocese. It’s important to spread the message of the mercy of God to everyone.