Priest Who Escaped Vietnam in 1975 Named Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta

Bishop-elect John-Nhan Tran, 56, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 1992.

(photo: Photo courtesy of Archdiocese of Atlanta)

Pope Francis has named Vietnam-born priest John-Nhan Tran, serving in the New Orleans Archdiocese, as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Bishop-elect Tran, 56, was 9 years old when he and his family left South Vietnam on a barge at the port of Ben Bach Dang in Saigon in April 1975, according to a 2015 interview on Nola.com.

After escaping Vietnam, Tran grew up in Louisiana, where he and his family were accepted as refugees. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 1992.

Tran will be consecrated an auxiliary bishop for Atlanta on Jan. 23, 2023.

The bishop-elect told Nola.com that his mother died after being shot by friendly fire in Vietnam in 1968, when he was 2 years old. His father was also shot but survived. An older brother had been killed by a landmine.

The family, which included aunts, uncles and cousins of Tran, was rescued from the South China Sea after they had run out of water.

“I think we would have perished quite soon if we hadn’t been rescued by a U.S. ship,” Tran told Nola.com. “I was so young that for me it was just, ‘Where’s the water?’ and ‘Are we there yet?’” he said. “Later, I felt the pain for my parents’ generation. I’ll never be able to know what they were feeling, how scared they must have been.”

Since his ordination in 1992, Bishop-elect Tran has served as parochial vicar and pastor of several Catholic parishes.

He has been the pastor of Mary, Queen of Heaven Church in Mandeville since 2015.

In August 2015, Father Tran donated his left kidney to Father Thanh Nguyen, a Vietnamese priest serving in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. The two priests became friends while studying at St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana.

In the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Bishop-elect Tran will serve alongside auxiliary bishops Joel Konzen and Bernard Schlesinger III. The archbishop of Atlanta is Gregory Hartmayer, a member of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual.

Archbishop Hartmayer said on Oct. 25 that he is “overjoyed to welcome Bishop-designate John Tran to Atlanta.”

“Our archdiocese is blessed with a diverse community of Catholics from around the world. Bishop-designate Tran reflects and celebrates this diversity,” he said.

Bishop-elect Tran said he was left speechless by the news that he had been asked to become an auxiliary bishop. He received the call from the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, “with trepidation.”

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

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond said Bishop-elect Tran “has ministered faithfully to the people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans throughout his priestly ministry.”

“He is a leader among our priests,” the archbishop said. “We congratulate him and assure him of our prayers as he assumes his new ministry. It is bittersweet, as he will be greatly missed.”

José Benlliure Ortiz, “Leaving Mass in Rocafort,” 1915

On Suffering and Hope and Forever

‘In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.’ (CCC 1368)

José Benlliure Ortiz, “Leaving Mass in Rocafort,” 1915

On Suffering and Hope and Forever

‘In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.’ (CCC 1368)