Pope Francis Names Former Vietnamese Refugee Priest John-Nhan Tran Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop

Pope Francis has named a New Orleans priest, Fr. John-Nhan Tran, as Archdiocese of Atlanta’s newest auxiliary bishop. Archbp. Cristophe Pierre broke the news in Washington on Oct. 25. Archbishop Pierre is the Papal nuncio to the United States.

With it, Fr. John-Nhan Tran is set to become auxiliary bishop on Jan. 23, 2023, upon his ordination. He will serve alongside Bernard E. Schlesinger III and Joel M. Konzen, who are both auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese.

Father Tran’s Rise from Obscurity

According to a Catholic World Report article, the 56-year-old prelate fled South Vietnam with his family aboard a barge in 1975. He was only nine years old at the time.

Tran’s family found their way to Louisiana as refugees. He recalled how they were rescued by a U.S. ship from possible death since they already ran out of drinking water. Tran was on the rescued barge with his cousins, aunts, and uncles.

Father Tran disclosed that her mother died in 1968 when a friendly fire hit her. He also almost lost his father, who sustained gunshots, but the latter fortunately survived his wounds. His older brother, however, died when he stepped onto a landmine.

In the U.S., he studied at the Don Bosco College in New Jersey and the St. Joseph Seminary in Louisiana. He then attended the Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, receiving his Master of Divinity in Theology degree.

Bishop-designate Tran heeded the call and became an ordained priest in 1992 under the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He led eight parishes throughout his priesthood as a pastor and parochial vicar.

Father Tran served as pastor of Mary, Queen of Heaven Church, beginning in 2015. He also actively involved himself in ministerial works for the Louisiana Vietnamese Community. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus.

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Father Tran’s Ascension to Bishopry

Based on a report by Catholic Philly, Father Tran learned about his appointment as auxiliary bishop from Archbishop Pierre. The apostolic nuncio reportedly called him to share the good news from the Vatican.

“After several days of prayer and trusting that God will provide, I was able to embrace the appointment by Pope Francis. I am indeed humbled to serve as auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Atlanta,” Catholic Philly quoted him saying.

Archbp. Gregory J. Hartmayer of the Atlanta archdiocese expressed his joy with Father Tran’s appointment. He said that the Archdiocese of Atlanta is “blessed with a diverse community of Catholics from around the world. Bishop-designate Tran reflects and celebrates this diversity.”

Meanwhile, New Orleans Archbp. Gregory M. Aymond explained that bishop-designate Tran’s journey as a priest saw him ‘ministering faithfully to the people of the New Orleans archdiocese.’

He added that Tran has the “great respect” of the archdiocese’s laity, clergy, and religious people. Archbishop Aymond also called Tran “a leader among our priests.” 

We congratulate him and assure him of our prayers as he assumes his new ministry. It is bittersweet as he will be greatly missed,” he said.

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