Bishop Vincent has shared his life’s story with ABC interviewer Indira Naidoo.
In the interview, he explains what life was like in Vietnam, in a small settlement outside of Saigon. While growing up, he had a happy childhood, but remembers hiding in bunkers from the Vietcong which would make incursions into villages from time to time.
Bishop Vincent explains to Indira how early Catholicism came to Vietnam from the trading ports in the north of the country. His family were originally from the north, bringing their Catholicism with them.
He spoke of his failed attempts to leave the country while it was in a state of chaos, before he successfully escaped at the age of 18. He ended up in a camp in Malaysia, at one point becoming a baker to survive. He finally arrived in Australia not knowing anything about the country, describing it as a ‘real learning curve’ including his unexpected introduction to Australian Rules football.
He attributes his ‘priestly calling’ to the experience of escaping on a boat, and living in a refugee camp which caused him to rethink the ‘bigger picture of life’.
Bishop Vincent describes himself as an Australian of Vietnamese heritage. He remains connected to the Vietnamese diaspora in Australia, always with an eye to making Vietnam a better place.
When Indira asks him about what he would like to see in the Church he responds, “When Pope Francis appeared on the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, people appeared in the piazza with banners saying ‘Repair my Church’, which is a reference to the dream of St Francis.”
He says that the Church can engage with an increasingly secular Australia through working alongside them to work for the common good.
The interview took place on 7 August 2022 on ABC Radio. The ABC has given us permission to share the link – listen to the full interview at https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/this-mortal-coil-bishop-long/14014232