Diocese of San Jose Bishop Patrick J. McGrath recently sat down with The Valley Catholic to discuss the recent arrest of Monsignor Hien Minh Nguyen for 14 counts of Bank Fraud totaling $19,000 and Tax Evasion.
The Bishop was saddened by this development, noting that “Monsignor Hien has been a priest of the Diocese of San Jose for nearly 30 years. In his years as pastor of St. Patrick’s, he paid off previously accrued parish and school debts and created a strong foundation upon which to serve the community.”
Ordained in 1985, Nguyen served as Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of San Jose from 2001-2008 before being named Pastor of St. Patrick in 2008. He served in that capacity until 2011. Following a fire that destroyed the church in September of 2012, the parish was renamed and is now called Our Lady of La Vang. Monsignor Nguyen also served as Vicar for Vietnamese Ministry and Director of the Vietnamese Catholic Center from 2001 to 2011.
Monsignor Nguyen had requested and been granted a sabbatical, which began on July 1, 2011. Returning from his sabbatical, he was appointed as Parochial Vicar of St. Nicholas Parish on July 1, 2012. Then in October, 2012, the Diocese was contacted by the IRS. The IRS requested confidentiality on the part of the Diocese. Nguyen took a personal leave of absence from ministry on December 6, 2013.
“While we have cooperated in the investigation, it has been confidential. We are just now learning of their findings. When we learned of this investigation, the Diocese took immediate action to review financial trends during and after Monsignor Hien’s tenure,” said Bishop McGrath. “We found no irregularities comparing those two timeframes.”
Bishop McGrath said this was the first time, to his knowledge, an allegation of this nature has been made against a priest in the Diocese of San Jose, which was founded in 1981, he further stated he did not know how this became the subject of an IRS investigation.
In addition, the Bishop wanted to assure everyone that the financial health of the parish, school and the Vietnamese Catholic Center is good. He added that donations to the Parish and the Diocese are safe and will be used in the manner for which they are intended. Bishop McGrath said the Diocese has been diligent in reviewing the finances of Our Lady of La Vang and each of its parishes.
“We feel confident that the controls recommended by our auditors ensure that monies donated to the parish are properly put to use there,” said the Bishop. “We will continue our own scrutiny of the parishes’ finances, and certainly learn more with the outcome of the IRS investigation.”