The Diocese of Las Vegas rolled out the red carpet in welcoming Bishop George Thomas, and Viatorians were part of the celebration. The two-hour Mass took place at the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer in Las Vegas, amidst a gathering of 2,000 invited guests.
Among them were members of the Viatorian Community, including Fr. Mick Egan, Fr. William Haesaert, Fr. Lawrence Lentz, Fr. Richard Rinn and Fr. Thomas von Behren, who all concelebrated the installation Mass while Associates Juliann Dwyer, Rosy Hartz, Deb and Romeo Perez, Dan and Cheryl Schwarz, and Fr. Mike Keliher and Br. Dan Tripamer also attended.
School children were chosen by their principals to represent their Catholic schools in the Diocese, and they processed up to the altar to meet Bishop Thomas.
Bishop Thomas arrives in Las Vegas after serving as bishop of Helena for the last 14 years, where he drew on his own experience of working in four different
parishes in the Seattle Diocese. In taking over as bishop of Las Vegas, he will be the pastoral leader of 750,000 Catholics — a population which is nearly 15 times the size of the Diocese of Helena.
Las Vegas officials say that under Bishop Thomas’ leadership in Helena, “youth, young adult and campus ministry flourished,” which bodes well for the two large Viatorian parishes in the Las Vegas Diocese.
Viatorians arrived in Las Vegas in 1954 or more than 40 years before the Las Vegas Diocese was formed. Since arriving, Viatorians opened two parishes — St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas and St. Thomas More Catholic Community in Henderson — and started the region’s first Catholic High School, Bishop Gorman High School.
They continue to run the two parishes, which collectively serve more than 8,000 families — and feature vibrant youth ministry programs — and are undertaking a new school in the area, Cristo Rey St. Viator Las Vegas College Prep, set to open in the fall of 2019.