Bishop Thomas

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

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January 20, 2021 

Bishop Thomas’ Pastoral Letter regarding President Biden's Inaugural Address

Dear Friends in Christ,
Today I wish to bring to your attention an important statement issued by the Most Reverend José H. Gomez, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archbishop Gomez issued this statement on the occasion of the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., now 46th President of the United States of America. Archbishop Gomez pledges the prayers of the Catholic Community for our new President and his family, asking God to grant Mr. Biden the wisdom and courage he needs to lead our nation during these trying and tumultuous times. Read more HERE     
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Joe Biden is sworn in asthe 46th president of the United States as his wife, Jill Biden, holds a Bible on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington Jan. 20, 2021. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

Bishop Thomas’ Message from Rome

During the past week, I have been in the Eternal City of Rome, in the company of Bishops from California, Hawaii and Nevada.  The purpose of our visit was to fulfill the canonically required Ad Limina (to the threshold of the Apostles) visit, where each Bishop spends time with the Holy Father and celebrates Mass at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul.  The Ad Limina visit is designed to renew each Bishop’s union with the See of Peter and to deepen our communion with the Universal Church.

It was a blessed week indeed!

I was deeply moved by the time I spent with our Holy Father Pope Francis.  Our regional Bishops spent three hours with him in fruitful dialogue and candid conversation.

Having served as a Diocesan Bishop himself, Pope Francis demonstrated particular sensitivity and understanding regarding both the blessings and the challenges each Bishop faces in his respective diocese.

The Pope encouraged the Bishops, above all else, to be men of prayer, missionary disciples who know intimately the mind and heart of Jesus and to do all in our power to lead our people on the path of the Good Shephard.

The Holy Father expressed his deep affection for the youth and young adults of our dioceses and encouraged us to do all in our power to welcome them into the heart of the Church through patient listening, open arms, substantial teaching, and welcoming hearts. Pope Francis has a particular affinity for immigrants and migrants across the entire globe, aware of the burdens they face and the struggles they endure as they search for a better life for themselves and their children.  “In their faces,” he said “we see the suffering face of Jesus Christ.”  The Holy Father’s enthusiasm for the New Evangelization was evident both in his voice and in his gestures.  He encouraged the Bishops to ensure that the people of our dioceses embrace their role as “missionary disciples,” commissioned to work with the ordained to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in every portion of our local Churches.Our Holy Father expressed great delight upon learning that the Catholic Church across the Southwest, including here in our own Diocese of Las Vegas, is a Church marked by vigor, vitality, vibrancy, and exponential growth. As I described to him the growth of the Diocese of Las Vegas, he gave me a big thumbs up and a huge smile as I spoke. As I knelt in prayer before the tomb of St. Peter and closed my week at the tomb of St. Paul, I presented all of your prayers and petitions to the Lord.  I asked Him to bless each of you abundantly, to hear your prayers, to free your hearts from fear and anxiety, and to deepen your love for Christ and strengthen your bond with the Church, which is “one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.” +Bishop George Leo Thomas, Ph.D. 

              Mensaje del obispo Thomas desde Roma

Durante la semana pasada, estuve en la ciudad eterna de Roma, en compañía de obispos de California, Hawái, y Nevada. El propósito de nuestra visita fue cumplir con la visita canónica Ad Limina (al umbral de los Apóstoles), donde cada obispo pasa tiempo con el Santo Padre y celebra la misa en las tumbas de los santos Pedro y Pablo. La visita de Ad Limina está diseñada para renovar la unión de cada Obispo con la Sede de Pedro y para profundizar nuestra comunión con la Iglesia Universal.

¡Fue una semana bendecida!

Me conmovió profundamente el tiempo que pasé con nuestro Santo Padre, el Papa Francisco. Nuestros obispos regionales pasaron tres horas con él en diálogos fructíferos y conversaciones sinceras.

Habiendo servido como obispo diocesano el mismo, el papa Francisco demostró una sensibilidad y comprensión particulares con respecto a las bendiciones y los desafíos que enfrenta cada obispo en su diócesis respectiva.

El Papa alentó a los obispos, por encima de todo, a ser hombres de oración, discípulos misioneros que conocen íntimamente la mente y el corazón de Jesús y que hagan todo lo que esté a nuestro alcance para guiar a nuestra gente en el camino del Buen Pastor.

El Santo Padre expresó su profundo afecto por los jóvenes y adultos jóvenes de nuestras diócesis y nos alentó a hacer todo lo posible para darles la bienvenida al corazón de la Iglesia a través de la escucha paciente, los brazos abiertos, la enseñanza sustancial, y los corazones acogedores.

El Papa Francisco tiene una afinidad particular por los inmigrantes y los migrantes a través todo el mundo, conscientes de las cargas que enfrentan y las luchas que enfrentan mientras buscan una vida mejor para ellos y sus hijos. "En sus rostros", él dijo, "vemos el rostro sufriente de Jesucristo". El entusiasmo del Santo Padre por la Nueva Evangelización era evidente tanto en su voz como en sus gestos. El Papa alentó a los obispos a asegurarse de que la gente de nuestras diócesis abrazara su papel de "discípulos misioneros", comisionados para trabajar con los ordenados para difundir las Buenas Nuevas de Jesucristo en cada porción de nuestras Iglesias locales.

Nuestro Santo Padre expresó un gran deleite al enterarse de que la Iglesia Católica en todo el suroeste, incluso aquí en nuestra propia Diócesis de Las Vegas, es una Iglesia marcada por el vigor, la vitalidad, y el crecimiento exponencial.

Cuando le describí el crecimiento de la Diócesis de Las Vegas, me dio un gran pulgar hacia arriba y una gran sonrisa mientras le hablaba.

Cuando me arrodillé en oración ante la tumba de San Pedro y cerré mi semana en la tumba de San Pablo, presenté todas sus oraciones y peticiones al Señor. Le pedí que los bendiga abundantemente, escuche sus oraciones, libere sus corazones del miedo y la ansiedad, y profundice su amor por Cristo y fortalezca su vínculo con la Iglesia, que es “una, santa, católica y apostólica.”

+ Obispo George Leo Thomas, Ph.D.

Update: 'Ad limina' is time to remember Mary's loving care, bishop says

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Paul Haring

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other bishops from California, Hawaii and Nevada arrive to concelebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major while making their "ad limina" visits in Rome Jan. 30, 2020. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to report on the status of their dioceses to Pope Francis and Vatican officials. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See ADLIMINA-ELEVEN-STMARYS Jan. 30, 2020.

ROME (CNS) -- While an "ad limina" visit literally is to the "threshold" or tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the visit all bishops are required to make periodically to Rome also leads them to Mary.

As Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, California, noted at Rome's Basilica of St. Mary Major, Pope Francis prays in the same chapel before and after each of his foreign trips.

Bishop Vann was the principal celebrant and homilist Jan. 30 as the bishops of California, Nevada and Hawaii celebrated Mass in the basilica's Borghese Chapel, home of the famous icon, "Salus Populi Romani" (health of the Roman people).

With the present basilica dating from the 5th century, he said, the U.S. bishops, who are making their ad limina pilgrimages, join an unbroken line of millions of pilgrims who have prayed there.

While many might "take the protection and care of the Mother of God for all of us for granted," he said, the bishops on ad limina and the pilgrims joining them from St. Mary's College in Oakland, California, would not.

In the day's first reading, from the Second Book of Samuel, King David says to God, "Who am I, Lord God ... that you have brought me to this point?"

The line "can certainly be our words in these days of our visit 'ad limina,'" Bishop Vann said.

As the bishops from U.S. Region XI approached the end of their ad limina, he prayed that they would "stand firm" in their faith, "strong and sure, an eloquent testimony to all that the Lord has done for us."


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.

Click here to see highlight photos.

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

Watch the Video

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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