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Avellon Williams 

VIETNAM- A young Dominican priest dedicated to serving ethnic groups in Vietnam’s Central Highlands was killed in a knife attack.

Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh, 40, who provided pastoral care for Sa Loong Parish in Kon Tum province, was stabbed several times while hearing confessions, according to a source from Kontum Diocese on Jan. 29.

Father Thanh died hours after being hospitalized, according to the source.

Service for Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh /Courtesy/

Police arrested the alleged drug-abusing killer.

“The local church and Dominicans have suffered a great loss with his death,” the source said, adding that he had dedicated his youth and obedience to God.

The Bishop of Kontum, Aloisius Nguyen Hung Vi, who celebrated the funeral Mass for Father Thanh on January 30, expressed shock and grief at the suddenness of his death.

He never imagined such a horrific event would occur in the run-up to Tet, the Lunar New Year holiday.

We could not understand God’s plans except for offering our brother to him,” Bishop Vi said.

According to him, the true beauty of a priest is to die while offering pastoral care to people.

Dominican Father Paul Cao Thang described his confrere as being extremely gentle and having good relationships with all people.

Father Thang said the Dominican priest, who took vows in 2010 and was ordained to the priesthood eight years later, dedicated himself to providing pastoral care for ethnic groups in Kontum Diocese, where there is a relative lack of priests serving in ethnic villages.

Diocese of Kon Tum /Courtesy/

A variety of ethnic groups live in the diocese covering the provinces of Gia Lai and Kon Tum.

The incident was painful but beautiful — people love the deceased father but have much pity on those who are controlled by evil,” said Father Thang.

According to him, Father Thanh’s departure serves as a reminder for people to work together to eradicate evil. “Pray for us to follow your ministry,” he asked.

In Bien Hoa, Dominican priests conducted the funeral of Father Thanh, after his body was transferred to St. Martin de Porres Monastery. The body was buried in a cemetery for Dominicans.

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Avellon Williams