Città del Vaticano (Agenzia Fides) – The Holy Father Pope Francis, 25 April 2018, instituted the diocese of Chiang Rai (Thailand), with territory taken from the Diocese of Chiang Mai, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan See of Bangkok. The Holy Father appointed first Bishop of Chiang Rai, rev. Joseph Vuthilert Haelom, of the clergy of Bangkok, until now Vicar General of the same archdiocese .
The newly instituted Diocese of Chiang Rai is situated in the north-eastern region of the country, it comprises 4 provinces (Chiang Rai, Nan, Phayao, Phrae), as well as the District of Ngao in the Province of Lampang. It is a suffragan of the archdiocese of Bangkok. The Bishop’s Residence is in Chiang Rai. The parish church of Nativity of Our Lady Church in Chiang Rai becomes the Cathedral of the new Circumscription .
The first Bishop of Chiang Rai, Joseph Vuthilert Haelom, was born 17 December 1951 at Lamsai, in the province of Pathumthani in the Archdiocese of Bangkok. He entered the Minor diocesan Seminary in Bangkok and successively, completed his studies in philosophy and theology at Lux Mundi National Seminary in Sampran. He was ordained a priest 3 August 1980 for the archdiocese of Bangkok.
He has since ministered as follows: 1980-1981: assistant parish priest at Assumption Cathedral Church in Bangkok; 1981-1985: parish priest at St. Theresa’s Church in Nongjok; 1985-1989: Parish priest at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Bangkok; 1989-1995: Director of St. Joseph Upatham School and Vice-Rector of St. Joseph Minor Seminary in Bangkok; 1995-2000: Director of the diocesan Commission for Social Works and Parish priest at Holy Rosary Church in Bangkok; 2000-2004: Rector of Sampran Pastoral Centre ; 2004-2012: parish priest at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Chiang Mai (Fidei Donum); 2005-2012: Vicar General of the diocese of Chiang Mai (Fidei Donum); 2012: Vicar General of the archdiocese of Bangkok. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 26/4/2018)