A New Diocese & Bishop on the Celebration of the 350th Year of the Siam Mission
St. Joseph’s Parish would like to express our joy and unity with the Catholic Church in Thailand on The Celebration of the Erection Ceremony of the Diocese Chiang Rai. We also extend our prayerful greetings to His Excellency The Most Reverend Joseph Vuthilert Haelorm on the day of his Episcopal Ordination.
On this same blessed day, The Preparation for the Celebration of the 350th Year of the Siam Mission was also launched.
These 3 very special celebrations were held today at Chiang Rai Rajabhat University Hall in Chiang Rai and were led by His Eminence Cardinal Michael Michal Kitbunchu which was attended by priests, religious, and parishioners from different parts of Thailand.
The New Diocese of Chiang Rai
The Holy Father has erected the new diocese of Chiang Rai in Thailand, using territory from the diocese of Chiang Mai, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Bangkok. The newly-erected diocese of Chiang Rai, situated in the north-eastern region of the country, will include four provinces (Chiang Rai, Nan, Phayao, and Phrae), as well as the district of Ngao of the province of Lampang. It will be a suffragan of the archdiocese of Bangkok. The episcopal see will be in Chiang Rai. The Nativity of Our Lady Parish Church in Chiang Rai will be the Cathedral Church of the new circumscription.
The new diocese has been created in northern Thailand to better meet the pastoral needs of ethnic minority groups living in remote mountainous and rural areas. Among the ethnic people in the new diocese are the Archa, Lanna, Lahu, Isan, Thaiyai, and Kachin people, said a statement put out by the office of Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij.
The Catholic Church in Thailand has seen the need to offer more pastoral care and missionary work for different ethnic groups with their own languages and cultures in this remote part of the country. Cardinal Kovithavanij announced the creation of the new diocese and its bishop at his office in Bangkok on April 25. The process to create the new diocese took three years.
Rev. Joseph Vuthilert Haelom
The Rev. Joseph Vuthilert Haelom was born on 17 December 1951 in Lamsai, in the central province of Pathumthani (diocese of Bangkok). Following his studies at the minor diocesan seminary in the capital, he completed his philosophical and theological studies at the Lux Mundi National Seminary in Sampran before his ordination as a priest on 3 August 1980. He was incardinated in the archdiocese of Bangkok.
After a stint as parochial vicar at the Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok for a year, he served as pastor in two churches between 1981 and 1989: St Teresa in Nongjok and Our Lady of Fatima in Bangkok. In the latter, he was the headmaster at St Joseph Upatham School and was deputy rector of the St Joseph minor seminary.
From 1995 to 2000, he was director of the Diocesan Commission for Social Works and pastor at the Holy Rosary Church, after which he returned to Sampran to act as rector of the pastoral center until 2004.
Between 2004 and 2012, the prelate was parish priest at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Chiang Mai, where he became vicar-general in 2005, a position he also held in Bangkok starting in 2012 until his appointment as bishop of Chiang Rai.