Bishop Thomas

Bishop Thomas Visits St. Andrew on Parish Unity Sunday

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Bishop George Leo Thomas made his 17th Parish visit since his Installation Mass on May 15th to St. Patrick in Tonopah, Nevada.

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Bishop George Leo Thomas

It was just over two-thousand years ago when a mother and father were fleeing from Bethlehem to Egypt for the safety of their child. Recently, Silvana Bermudez and her three children fled the threat of gang violence in El Salvador. She and her children traveled 3,000 miles to the U.S. Mexican border to seek asylum, only to be separated by U.S. authorities. 

I’m deeply saddened by young children being separated from their mothers and fathers as a tool to deter others from seeking asylum due to terror and deep poverty, it’s an assault on human dignity. The children have likely endured weeks, if not months of migration with little more than the clothes on their backs, through dangerous lands and border crossings. Uprooted from their homeland due to economic oppression and violence, it is inhumane to subject them to greater emotional trauma. 

The U.S. Bishops stand united against policies which separate families, especially young children from their mothers and fathers. It is important to ensure the rules for asylum remain intact, especially protecting women fleeing domestic violence in their home countries. 

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops In a recent statement said, “At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The Attorney General's recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection.” He also said, he joined Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB's Committee on Migration, in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration's zero tolerance policy. (Read Cardinal DiNardo’s complete statement)

Pope Francis reminds us, “A person's dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity.” Because this crisis has touched the hearts of so many ordinary Americans in a special way, it created a silver lining that captured the attention of political leaders. For this reason, I remain guardedly optimistic that blessings will continue flowing from this tragedy including the hope for bi-partisan dialogue and cooperation. Moreover, I hope and pray for the reunification of families. 

Photo by: Erik Gloege

Bishop Thomas prepares to leave Montana for Las Vegas

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By Jacob Fuhrer - MTN News

Bishop George Thomas, a Montana native, is preparing for his departure from the Treasure State after nearly 16 years as the Bishop of Helena.

Born in Anaconda and raised in Butte, the bishop said he knew early on he was destined for the clergy.

“I said to my dad as early as the second grade, ‘I think I want to be a priest when I grow up' and I didn’t really waver from that idea,” Bishop Thomas said.

But the bishop’s father said he had to go college first, so he did. Bishop Thomas attended Carroll College and then the University of Washington earning both a masters and a doctoral degree.

However, Thomas said his eyes were originally on the priesthood.

“I thought I’d be a country priest with a little white picket fence around the church and a pickup truck and a dog around the back seat and it just didn’t ever pan out,” Bishop Thomas said.

Thomas was ordained bishop in Helena in 2004. During his tenure, he was recognized as an honorary member of the Blackfeet Nation and became the Chancellor of his alma mater at Carroll College.

He also oversaw difficult times in the church after accusations of sexual abuse of children in the diocese during the time period of the 1930s to the 1970s came to light.

Bishop Thomas said that it was the church’s responsibility to the victims to be open and honest about the whole process.

In 2015, the Diocese of Helena posted a list online of every employee accused while working there. All members of the diocese who where accused are now deceased.

“This has been a hidden problem,” the bishop said. “It has been put under the carpet too long. In my opinion, the only way to deal with these kind of things is bring them to the light. Healing can take place only in the light and presence of truth.”

The bishop’s willingness to address controversy will be helpful as he enters his new role in Las Vegas, a community he said still has a broken heart over the deadly shooting that has further pushed the conversation around gun control.

“The whole question around access to guns by minors or persons with mental health issues, all that has to be on the table again,” Bishop Thomas said.

Many will certainly look to the bishop for guidance in a diocese that is 15 times the size of Helena’s. The bishops said it will be hard to leave.

“It’s hard to leave family. This is a bittersweet time. Hard to leave all these communities. I love them to pieces. It just started to dawn on me that this is actually happening. So probably when i actually unpack boxes in Las Vegas, I’ll realize I have a new home and I’ll be a visitor when I come back to Montana.”

Bishop Thomas will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Helena until May 15th.

The diocese college of consultors, which is comprised of local priests, will then have eight days to appoint a diocesan administrator to serve until a new bishop is selected by Pope Francis.

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