Around the Diocese

Date: April 13, 2021
Nevada Catholic Conference released joint statement on Physician Assisted Suicide Bill

Read it HERE    Leer in español Oprima Aquî

Las Vegas SUN - April 8, 2021

In 2021, meaning of Easter takes on new life

By Father Bill Kenny - Sunday, April 4, 2021 /  2 a.m.

Note from 
Brian Greenspun: I first met fellow Las Vegan Bill Kenny in 1964. He was a student at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and I was in my first year at Georgetown. It was Thanksgiving at Mahlon Brown III’s house. Mahlon was a law student at Howard University.

A lot of years have passed since that first meeting. What hasn’t changed is my respect for Bill — for so many decades now, Father Bill — and his commitment to his faith, his community and his country.

I asked him — and he graciously agreed — to write today’s Easter column. He nailed it

“Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!” This chant is joyfully acclaimed by Christians all over the world every Easter: It is a song of triumph. It celebrates the victory of Jesus Christ over Satan, sin, evil and even death itself.

For Christians, Easter — the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ — is the most important feast on the calendar. Christmas, probably the most popular feast and one that receives much more commercial attention, commemorates the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, but birth is common to every one of us. On the other hand, we believe that only Jesus has risen; he is the first to rise from the dead and his resurrection is a preview and promise for all of us, as he spoke: “In my father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (John 14: 2-3)

Easter has many memories, traditions and customs over the years: wearing one’s “Easter finest” (including that Easter bonnet) to church, Easter lilies, sunrise services, the traditional Easter brunch, the blessing of Easter foods, Easter baskets filled with candy and other goodies, the Easter bunny, Easter parades and, of course, the ever-popular Easter egg hunt.

Easter can arrive as early as March 22 and as late as April 25. The dating of Easter is complex and goes all the way back to the council of Nicea in 325; this council used the Gregorian calendar and established the following formula: Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox (the first day of spring). However, Orthodox churches use the Julian calendar to determine their Easter date — causing some confusion and controversy over the true date of Easter. This year, Orthodox Easter is May 2.

With such a wide spread of possible dates, Easter Sunday is not always sunny and bright, as it seems it should be since it is a springtime holiday. Many parts of the country have actually had snow fall on Easter — which might happen this year in the United Kingdom. And here in Las Vegas, we could reach near record highs in the 90s.

I think Easter 2021 could be one of the most memorable of our lives. It might only be topped by Easter 2020. By the time we celebrated Easter a year ago, on April 12, Nevada — like much of the nation and world — was, for all practical purposes, shut down. Houses of worship were allowed gatherings of only 10 people, and they had to maintain a distance of six feet apart from one another. What a strange and somewhat sad Easter that was for Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Christian churches in Las Vegas.

But this year, Easter will be different — in a very positive way. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. With vaccinations now at the pace of more than a million a day, with the anticipation of reaching that goal of herd immunity and with the loosening of COVID-19 protocols, Easter will truly be a celebration of new life.

Of course, Easter has always been a celebration of new life, the resurrected life of Jesus, but I feel that we are all ready and excited to celebrate “new life” for ourselves. This “new life” means more people in our churches on Easter Sunday — a significantly higher capacity than a year ago. We pastors are so happy to be able to see real people sitting in our pews. These pews have been empty for too long. Oh true, people in great numbers could and did watch church, synagogue and temple services that were either live-streamed or pre-recorded, but that’s not the same as being there in person. For Catholics, the inability to receive communion has been painful. This year, many of our parishioners will be able to receive the Eucharistic sacrament for the first time in months. They are thrilled to do so.

I’ve read many near-death experiences, and one thing they all have in common, as described in Wikipedia, is “a ‘tunnel experience’ or entering a darkness ... (and) ... a rapid movement toward and/or sudden immersion in a powerful light.” Well, Easter 2021 will be just such an experience: a light at the end of the tunnel. Post-COVID is approaching. A new normal is almost here. I feel it in the air.

As a Catholic priest, I have always looked forward to the celebration of Easter. But, this year, I am more excited than ever before. I have missed our congregation so much. I can’t wait to see familiar and smiling faces once again. I stand with the women at the empty tomb and my joy is almost beyond words. All I can say is: “Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!”


Date: March 29, 2021

Bishop Thomas Extends Dispensation from the Obligation of Mass

Dispensation from the Obligation to Attend Mass 
Extension - April 5, 2021 through April 25, 2021

While I have granted permission to begin the reopening of public Masses, due to the ongoing gravity of the present moment and the restrictions being placed on us during the civil reopening plan, I hereby extend the dispensation for all Catholic faithful of             the Diocese of Las Vegas and those Catholics visiting within the geographic boundaries of our Diocese, from the obligation of attending Sunday Masses and Holy Days of Obligation up to and including April 25, 2021.

While we recognize that many are eager to return to Mass in our churches, it remains important for those who are elderly and otherwise at risk to refrain from returning to public Liturgies until it is manifestly safe to do so. For all the faithful, especially those who are sick, at high risk of becoming sick, and their caregivers, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is hereby dispensed.

Sincerely yours in Christ, 

Most Revered George L. Thomas, Ph.D. 
Bishop of the Diocese of Las Vegas

Click HERE for Original Decree
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Bishop Thomas visits Holy Child Mission in Caliente for Confirmation 

0321 2021 BGLT HolyChildGroup2

Within the Diocese of Las Vegas's boundaries and far beyond the lights of Las Vegas lies a treasure trove of natural beauty and friendly rural communities. Among them is the small city of Caliente, named for the hot springs that flow from the base of the mountain.

BishopGLT InSide Holy Child Church

On March 20, Bishop Thomas drove on Nevada's Great Basin Highway, one of the roads lesser-traveled in his diocese, up the marshy Pahranagat Valley, across the expansive Delamar Valley, and through the Delamar Mountains to Holy Child Mission in Caliente for Confirmation. Bishop Thomas said, " Holy Child is one of the hidden gems in the Diocese of Las Vegas.

The small parish is a Mission of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ely. Holy Child is served by Deacon Patrick FitzSimmons, who provides the parish's daily pastoral needs with the assistance of family and volunteers. The enthusiastic parish team offers religious education and sacramental preparation for first communion, confirmation, and RCIA. Bishop Thomas, moved by their commitment to ministry and mission work, said, "I am profoundly grateful to Deacon Patrick FitzSimmons, his wife Millie, his son Sean, volunteers, and extended family for the countless ways they pour life out in service to this faith community." Once a month, the pastor drives the 268 miles round trip from Ely to celebrate Mass and give pastoral support to the Mission. Bishop Thomas continued, "So too, I commend Father Lourdes for his monthly visits to the parish for the celebration of Holy Mass.

Holy Child Catholic Church

Holy Child Mission serves greater Lincoln County, known for the community spirit and celebrations of Caliente, Panaca, and the county seat Pioche. During the Summer months, many Catholic families escape the heat and traffic of Clark County by heading North to Lincoln County, home of natural wonders and recreational opportunities. A place where people are welcoming and friendly. Holy Child is no different with generational families engaged in parish life welcome visitors with a smile and a hello. Bishop Thomas experiencing the community's generous hospitality and faithfulness, said, "I was the beneficiary of the community's warmth and welcome, and was immediately impressed by the depth and strength I found in the faith of the Confirmation Candidates." Upon deeper reflection, he said, "Already, I look forward to a return visit to Caliente, and ask God to bless the community abundantly with health and safety until I return again.”     

Bishop Thomas Confirms 20 in Sandy Valley

At the secluded southern end of the expansive Pahrump Valley is Sandy Valley, where a small Mission of Christ the King Catholic Community in Las Vegas stands.

On Sunday, March 14, Bishop George Leo Thomas, Ph.D. made the hour trek, including the steep mountain-pass road winding between the mountainous Shenandoah Peak and Table Mountain to Sandy Valley. The only paved road into Sandy Valley.

This rustic refuge tucked away 35 miles Southwest of Las Vegas lies among the rolling sand dunes for which it is named. Among the circular Alfalfa fields and small ranches is St. Catherine of Siena Mission, where Bishop Thomas administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 20 Catholic youth.

Bishop Thomas was touched by his visit to the rural parish, saying, "I had a very special visit to Saint Catherine of Siena Mission in Sandy Valley." Upon entering the valley, he encountered a hint of what was to come that day, musing he said, "I was greeted by a large welcome sign at the edge of town, and warmly received by enthusiastic parishioners."

Concelebrating with Bishop Thomas was Fr. Shawn Dresden. He is not only the pastor of St. Catherine, Fr. Shawn, is also a favored son of sorts.  He received his First Communion and Confirmation there as a parishioner.

Assisting at the Confirmation Mass was Deacon Rick Minch. He also was the catechist for the class and handles the daily operations of the mission parish. 

The collaboration between Fr. Shawn and Deacon Rick has proven successful in propagating the faithful. Bishop Thomas said, "The Confirmation class was so well prepared, and very eager to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation." With admiration, he continued, "Hats off to Fr. Shawn Dresden, Deacon Rick Minch and their volunteers for a job well done."

Although this is Bishop Thomas' first time coming to Sandy Valley, it likely won't be his last. He always enjoys the warm hospitality and friendly atmosphere in the Diocese's rural parishes. Departing St. Catherine of Siena Mission, he said, "Already I look forward to another visit to this very special place." 

Journey Towards Easter:
A Special Message to the 2021 Elect

2021 Elect BGLT Photo

Click HERE to see the names of the Elect from our parishes.

Bishop Thomas’ 2021 CSA Reflection
Strengthening One Another in the Faith

To Donate to CSA, Click HERE Today

Bishop Thomas visits Catholic Charities Encountering the Gospel 

By Deacon Tim O’Callaghan

Today Bishop Thomas, in the imagery of the Gospel of Matthew, fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, cared for the brokenhearted, and visited those held captive in the poverty of loneliness.

Visiting Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, Bishop Thomas distributed meals, held a prayer service for the staff, and greeted the poor and hungry lined up for a block and a half.  Reflecting on the day, he said, “I was deeply moved by the courage, compassion, and creativity of our amazing Catholic Charities staff, who have remained on the front lines from the beginning of the pandemic.” With a sense of humility, he continued, “On behalf of the entire community, I thank them.” Catholic Charities reopened today at half capacity and with no volunteers, after closing a week ago, when a man in the overnight shelter tested positive for COVID-19. 

Although many Catholic Charities clients are experiencing the hardship of homelessness and the rigors of life on the streets, they are always grateful for the services provided to them. It was no different today as Bishop Thomas and staff not only handed out meals to hundreds; they greeted them with dignity and compassion, and in return received so much more. Bishop Thomas pondering said, “I was also deeply touched by so many expressions of gratitude from those lined up for hot meal, accompanied by a smile and a kind word. They especially blessed my day.”

Catholic Charities is the largest provider of Meals on Wheels in the State of Nevada, with the assistance of a large resort property, the meals continue to roll out. Not to be overlooked by Bishop Thomas, who said, “Among the hidden heroes in our community is the leadership of Wynn Las Vegas. With gratitude, he continued, “They are preparing a thousand meals a day for the poor for two weeks.  Their generosity has allowed our Catholic Charities crew to keep the Meals on Wheels Program alive for the homebound during these trying days.”

With the heart of a good shepherd, Bishop Thomas said, “Finally, I am grateful to the Lord for the visionary leadership of Deacon Tom Roberts and his team. They’ve been nothing short of remarkable throughout these difficult days.” Recognizing the gifts and talents of those he encounters in the fields, and among the co-workers in the vineyard, Bishop Thomas, continued, “We have walking saints in our midst!”


Coronavirus Update: Bishop Thomas' Pastoral Letter to the People of the Diocese of Las Vegas

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March 18, 2020

My Dear Friends in Christ,

People across the entire globe have been plunged into a world of hardship and uncertainty as the coronavirus continues to take its toll in every nation.

As individuals and families, we are facing the specter of critical illness, certain economic hardship, and the massive disruption of our daily lives.

The Church is no stranger to adversity, suffering, or privation.

In times of difficulty, she has always raised her voice in prayer and earnest supplication, confident that God will hear our every prayer and answer all our pleas.

Down through the centuries, the Blessed Mother has played a vitally important role in times of trial, coming to us as a tender Mother, a tireless advocate, steadfast Intercessor, and cherished friend.

She has visited her people under the familiar titles of Virgin of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Antipolo, and Our Lady of La Vang.

She is beloved in Poland as Our Lady of Czestochowa, in Ireland as Our Lady of Knock, and in Japan as Our Lady of Akita.

Mary is revered by the people in Bosnia–Herzegovina as Our Lady of Medugorje, and in Spain, she is treasured as Our Lady of the Pillar. Mary is known in France as Our Lady of Lourdes, and in Portugal as Our Lady of Fatima.

On May 13, 1846, the Bishops of the United States unanimously chose the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Patroness of our Nation. Their decision was ratified by Pope Pius IX on February 7 of the following year.

Now is the hour to turn to our Blessed Mother for her maternal help. She is always ready and willing to carry our prayers and petitions to the heart of her Son.

Mary’s own words, contained in the Gospel of St. Luke, capture the special place that she holds in salvation history as the advocate and friend of God’s holy people. The Scripture says, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.”

I ask you, the people of the Diocese of Las Vegas, to turn to the Blessed Mother, who helps us keep the eyes of our hearts fixed on her Son Jesus during dark and trying days.

The words of a powerful prayer called the Memorare , and attributed to St. Bernard, assure us that when we turn to Mary in times of need we have this blessed assurance -- that never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help, or sought her intercession was left unaided.

When our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, she posed to him a question that is intended also for you and me. Mary asked Juan Diego, “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?”

Her question is a not-so-subtle assurance that Mary is our Mother too, standing ready and willing to protect and defend us, her children, in times of trouble and uncertainty.

I ask you, the people of the Diocese of Las Vegas, to bring your troubles to Mary. Give her your burdens, your worries. Share with her your cares and concerns. Be assured that under her maternal mantle, prayers are answered and miracles still happen.

Mary will not forsake her children in their hour of need, nor will she neglect our prayers in times of difficulty and distress.

In the days ahead, I ask you to consider praying the Rosary as a family, and ask parents and grandparents to teach your children about the healing power of Mary’s maternal care.

I ask all parishioners to pray the beautiful Memorare at the close of each day, directing your prayer toward those who are sick and suffering, those who have died, for healthcare workers and researchers, and for civic leaders, who are under particular duress during these trying days.

I ask you to invite Mary our Mother into your hearts and homes, and to venerate her as your loving Mother, as one who will lead you and your families closer to the heart of her Son.

Each Sunday, I ask you to consider reading the Sunday readings as a family, allowing the living Word of God to draw you into the heart of the Word made Flesh.

Finally, I commend our entire Diocese to the maternal care of Mary, entreating her to “pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,” and protect our people with grace, peace, and temporal relief.

I close this reflection with the consoling words of St. Francis De Sales, who had deep devotion to Our Lady, and unfailing faith in God’s Provident care. He wrote, “Do not fear what will happen tomorrow. The same loving God who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. God will either shield you from suffering or will give you the unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

Be certain of my daily prayers and blessings.

Bishop George Leo Thomas, Ph.D.
Bishop of Las Vegas

Click HERE to read previous letters.

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