Parishioners Want Concerns With Priest Addressed

Once again, parishioners at the Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic church have taken to the streets to protest their priest. Members of the East Biloxi church say they want Father Dominic Phan replaced, accusing him of having a gambling problem and mishandling the church's money. Protestors told WLOX news they feel the local diocese is not doing enough to address their concerns.

On most Sunday mornings, you would find Hung Ahn Nguyen and the rest of his family worshiping during mass at the Vietnamese Martyr Chatholic Church.On this day, they line Popps Ferry Road, in protest of their priest. A translator explains why Nguyen wants Dominic Phan to leave his post in the church.

"He (Hung Ahn Nguyen) wants a priest who has no bad habits, who is willing to serve the community," said translator  Dien Nguyen.

The parishoners say the priest has a gambling problem and question how he handles the church's money. They have shared these concerns with the Biloxi Diocese, but feel their cries have fallen on deaf ears.

A spokesperson for the Biloxi Diocese says steps have been taken the last few days to look into the matter.

"Bishop Rodi has ordered that an audit of the parish funds be made, and that is also in support of Father Dominic Phan, also. Perhaps that will answer some questions that the people have raised," said Shirley Henderson, Director of Communication for the Diocese of Biloxi.

But church members say that's not enough.

"Unless there's a criminal investigation involved, people can cover up things that they do," translator Nguyen said.

This is the second protest in a week. Parishoners say they will continue to hold public demonstrations until they believe the situation is adequately addressed.

"And this is hurting our community. These people are fishermen. They spend most of their time in the fishing boat. They don't know what's going on. And the church is taking advantage of these people. It's a shame." the translator said.

Reverend Dominic Phan has strongly denied allegations that he has a gambling problem or that he has mishandled any of the church's funds. Phan was unavailable for comment Sunday.