Viet Priests Un-Suspended, Out of Little Saigon Parish

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 Two priests, one a well-respected former director of the Vietnamese Catholic Center, were reinstated Tuesday to the ministry but at the same time transferred separately out of their parish in Little Saigon, Nguoi Viet Daily News reported here.

It seems the Diocese of Orange hopes the decision would put an end to the outcry among Vietnamese-American Catholics over the abrupt suspension of two popular priests with no apparent fault.

In October, the faithful at St. Barbara parish in Santa Ana, 70% of whom are Vietnamese-American, woke up to find three of their priests gone. The pastor, Fr. Richard Kennedy was sent on sick leave, while two Viet associate pastors, Fr. Michael Mai (Mai Khải Hoàn) and Fr. Raphael Xuan Nguyen were suspended from active ministry indefinitely. Father Mai is a well-loved, well-respected priest, president of the league of Vietnamese priests in the U.S., and former director of the Vietnamese Catholic Center — itself the subject of dispute between the Vietnamese congregation and the Diocese over who gets to control it.

No explanation was provided, and nobody at the Diocese was talking, citing confidential personnel issues. The two priests were allegedly not allowed back to the parish or to talk to anyone.

Rumors began flying, of this and that, including romantic affairs involving another priest at the parish. Msgr. Mike Heher, the vicar general, denounced “rumors” surrounding the action, and asserted that all were still “good priests,” but still won’t say exactly why the priests were removed. Read more here.