Dominican priest killed while in the confessional in Vietnam

Father Giuse Trần Ngọc Thanh, O.P., was killed in a knife attack on 29 January while hearing confessions, and local authorities have arrested a suspect linked to his murder.

By Vatican News staff writer

A Vietnamese priest of the Dominican order, Fr. Giuse Trần Ngọc Thanh, was killed in a knife attack on Saturday.

Fr. Trần was attacked while hearing confessions shortly before the celebration of the Vespers Mass on Saturday evening at a mission of Dak Mot, about 40 miles northwest of Kon Tum.

The priest was in the confessional when he was attacked with a knife by a man. Another Dominican religious who rushed to the scene was wounded with a knife when he tried to stop the attacker.

Fr. Trần, who was injured in the attack, received initial treatment, but later died around 11:30 pm on 29 January.

Shock and sorrow of the faithful

The unexpected murder of Fr. Trần has shocked the local community which was preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year on 1 February.

Messages of mourning and grief have poured in from the parish community of Dak Mót where the priest lived and worked, as well as from the Dominican Province of Vietnam.

Local authorities have arrested the attacker, who is considered a person “mentally ill,” according to the Vatican’s Fides news agency.

Dying ‘in persona Christi’

Bishop Aloisio Nguyen Hung Vi of Kon Tum Diocese celebrated a funeral Mass on Sunday, and expressed his condolences to the parish community of Dak Mót and the Dominican Province of Vietnam.

Speaking at Mass, the Bishop said: “We know that the will of God is mysterious; we cannot fully understand the ways of the Lord. We can only place our brother in the hands of the Lord. Father Joseph travels in eternity and, no matter what happened, no one can separate him, or us, from the love of God. When he was hit, Father Joseph stood in the place of Christ, dispensing his forgiveness. Dying at that moment, ‘in persona Christi‘, must be a grace. In this pain, we also see the beauty and the nobility of the priest.”

Burial arrangements

Fr. Trần’s interment was held on Monday at St. Martin Chapel in Biên Hòa, Dong Nai. His body was laid to rest among other Dominican friars in the Cemetary of the Province located in Bien Hoa.

Fr. Trần was born on 10 August 1981 in Saigon, and he took his religious vows in August 2010. He was ordained a priest in 2018.

“Please unite to pray so that Father Guise’s soul may soon enjoy the glory of God,” the Diocese of Kon Tum said in a statement on 30 January.