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Bishop Joseph Phuong Nguyen’s coat of arms carries the motto State in Domino which means ‘Stand firm in the Lord’ (Philippians 4:1). It features the following elements: A boat at full sail, a star, three mountains, a bird, a cross and the colours blue, yellow, red and green. Bishop Nguyen’s coat of arms and motto provide a fitting summary of his acceptance of God’s will and his cooperation with God’s grace.


Bishop Nguyen was one of the hundreds of thousands of boat people who escaped Communist Vietnam by going into the unknown. Despite strong winds, high waves and the tremendous difficulties and dangers on the open sea, he looked at the star with trust (coloured blue) and called upon Mary, our Blessed Mother, to protect him on his voyage. The boat at full sail is a traditional symbol of the Church. Mary, Star of the Sea, is our shining guide across the chaotic watery deep, leading us to the safe harbour of her Son, Jesus Christ.

The three mountains signify the three dioceses where Bishop Nguyen was called to discern his priestly vocation, then to serve: The Diocese of Buon Ma Thuot in Vietnam, the Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Diocese of Kamloops. Each showcases spectacular mountain scenery, and each has shaped and enriched him to be the presence and action of the Holy Spirit to the people. The three mountains also represent the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity which make us capable of living and witnessing as children of God.

The ‘Chim Lac’ bird is an ancient symbol of Vietnam, which symbolizes Bishop Nguyen’s heritage. Relying on God’s providence, full of hope and optimism (conveyed in yellow), he flew into the unknown and embarked on a new challenge, rising above and stretching beyond limits. With God, all things are possible!

Bishop Nguyen’s long journey led him to Canadian soil where his dream to be ordained as a Catholic priest was realized. The cross on the sail, with a maple leaf as its border, represents the Catholic Church in Canada. The cross has two shades of colour – red and green. The colour red symbolizes martyrdom and the strong will to survive persecutions while the colour green symbolizes restoration and renewal, the new springtime.

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