ARIZONA VIETNAMESE CATHOLIC SOCIETY
3433 W. Earll Drive u Phoenix, AZ 85017
November 15, 2010
An Open Letter to the Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix
Re: Implore for urgent intervention regarding the inappropriate conduct of Fr. Joseph
Thuan Nguyen, O.P., in his handling of Vietnamese Martyrs Parish’s financial matters.
We are a group of Vietnamese-American Catholics in Arizona that includes those who have been actively and continuously involved in our faith community in the Phoenix area since its formation in the late 1970’s which eventually became the non-territorial Vietnamese Martyrs Parish (the Parish) in the mid 2000’s. We are writing to bring to your immediate attention the inappropriate conduct of Fr. Joseph Thuan Nguyen, O.P., Pastor of the Parish, in his handling of the Parish’s financial matters in violation of Code of Canon Law as well as the Parish Finance Councils Norms issued by the Diocese of Phoenix. More precisely, Fr. Nguyen has never appointed a legitimate Parish Finance Council and therefore has been the only person in receipt and control of all Parish money since its early days, but he has long been failing to render an account to parishioners concerning their offerings and contributions to the Parish, particularly in regards to the millions of dollars he received from the faithful in connection to the building of the new Parish’s church.
In fact, information pertaining to the inappropriate conduct of Fr. Nguyen has been brought by representatives of the Parish’s parishioners to the attention of Fathers Fred Adamson and David Sanfilippo from the Diocese of Phoenix during a meeting at the Diocesan Pastoral Center on September 9, 2010 with the presence of the Diocese General Counsel, Mr. John C. Kelly, but it appears that the issue is not being taken seriously.
As you are aware, in the pursuit of a dream to have a place to worship in our native culture and language, Vietnamese Catholics in Phoenix began to raise money since 2003 to build our own church. For more than six years thereafter, Vietnamese Catholics in Phoenix and from all over Arizona have contributed millions of dollars to the construction project and eventually dedicated the new Parish’s church at 2915 W. Northern Avenue last April. Today, amid the decrease in real estate value in the Phoenix area, valuation from the Maricopa County Tax Assessor indicates that the 2011 full cash value of the newly dedicated Parish’s church is over five million dollars.
November 15, 2010
The Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted
The issue, however, was that before and during the construction of the new Parish’s church and as of today, all the money offered or donated to the Parish by the faithful, including Sunday collections and from numerous fund raising events organized by the Parish in the past several years, are being collected exclusively by Fr. Nguyen since he has never appointed a legitimate Finance Council. And despite requests from parishioners, Fr. Nguyen has been refusing to disclose the accounting information on how he has lavishly expended millions of dollars received from the faithful for the construction of the new Parish’s church, especially the real costs of building materials and ornaments that he purchased from Vietnam at his own discretion on dozens of overseas trips he has made during the construction project. At this point in time, although Fr. Nguyen has clearly acknowledged in the past that the Parish did not borrow any funds for the construction project of its new church, he has recently announced during Sunday masses that the Parish still owing the Diocese of Phoenix over $200,000 and urged parishioners to continue their contributions to help him repay that debt.
In summary, Fr. Nguyen’s inappropriate and questionable conducts as above described have created legitimate questions about his integrity as a pastor. Thus, he has completely lost the trust and respect of upright and responsible parishioners at the Parish. More seriously, a growing aversion to Fr. Nguyen is bringing grave detriment and disturbance to the spiritual and worship life of thousands of parishioners, and it certainly will not cease without interference from appropriate authorities.
Wherefore, we humbly implore you as the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix where the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish is proud of being a part of it, to act within the authority entrusted to you in providing an appropriate solution to help rebuild trust and unity among parishioners of the Parish that have been divided and puzzled over the unfortunate and inappropriate conduct of their Pastor, Fr. Joseph Thuan Nguyen, O.P.
May God bless you in abundance.
Yours in Christ,
Lam Q. Bui, Chairperson
Arizona Vietnamese Catholic Society
cc: – Fr. Liem Tran, O.P., Vicar Provincial – Vietnamese Dominican Regional Vicariate, Canada
– Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P., Prior Provincial – Western Dominican Province, U.S.A.
– Fr. Brian Martin Mulcahy, O.P., Prior Provincial – Eastern Dominican Province, U.S.A.
– Fr. Michael A. Mascari, O.P., Prior Provincial – Central Dominican Province, U.S.A.
– Fr. Christopher T. Eggleton, O.P., Prior Provincial – Southern Dominican Province, U.S.A.
– Fr. André Descôteaux, O.P., Prior Provincial – Saint Dominic Province, Canada.