The Pope has created the new Ecclesiastical Province of Las Vegas, which includes the now Archdiocese of Las Vegas and the two Dioceses of Reno and Salt Lake City.
Pope Francis has elevated the Diocese of Las Vegas to a Metropolitan Archdiocese and nominated its Bishop, George Leo Thomas, as the territory’s first Archbishop, the Holy See Press Office announced May 30, 2023. The Dioceses of Reno and Salt Lake City will now be suffragan territories to the new Metropolitan Archdiocese.
The now archbishop reflected: “28 years ago, Las Vegas became a Diocese, and now on May 30 an Archdiocese. This speaks to the tremendous growth and vibrancy of the local faith and the commitment of the women and men that serve in leadership including our priests.”
In a press release on the Archdiocese’s website, he said, “With our Diocese being elevated to an Archdiocese, Pope Francis has discerned the need for a new Ecclesiastical Province in the Western United States. I am deeply honored and humbled by this significant recognition by the Pope.”
Pope Francis changed the status of the Diocese because he created the new Ecclesiastical Province of Las Vegas. This province is made up of the new Archdiocese of Las Vegas, which is known as the metropolitan See, and the two Dioceses of Salt Lake City and Reno, known as the suffragan Sees. The Metropolitan See serves as a central authority over the other dioceses in the province. However, the Archbishop does not have direct power of governance over the suffragan territories but can support the other bishops. Previously the Dioceses of Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Reno were all suffragan dioceses of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
A new Archbishop
With this new change Bishop George Leo Thomas becomes Archbishop. The 73-year-old was ordained a bishop in 2000 and was appointed as the third Bishop of Las Vegas in 2018. He will now travel to Rome to receive the pallium, a liturgical vestment in the form of a white band made of wool and worn on the shoulders of metropolitan Archbishops. It represents their authority and care over a certain territory and its faithful.
Every year, the Pope confers this vestment to the newly created Archbishops during the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29. A small group of pilgrims from Las Vegas will travel to Rome for this mass to accompany the new Archbishop in this event, explains the press release of the Archdiocese. There will also be a local investiture ceremony on October 2, 2023. At the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer in Las Vegas the Apostolic Nuncio to the US, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, will vest Archbishop Thomas with the pallium.
The Archdiocese of Las Vegas covers 39,088 square miles in Nevada, and has a population of 750,000 Catholics. The new Ecclesiastical Province, including the other two dioceses, instead covers 314,775 square miles now and has over 1 million Catholics.
The press release by the Archdiocese also includes a prayer, which the faithful can say for the new Archdiocese and Archbishop.
O God, we give you thanks for our new Archdiocese, the Metropolitan See
of Las Vegas. May our Archdiocese make visible the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. Graciously bestow your gifts upon our Archbishop, that he may preside in the place of Christ, and teach, sanctify, and govern us in love. Grant that the faithful may be so united to their shepherd, and gathered together in the Holy Spirit through the Gospel and the Eucharist, as to be a sign and instrument in the world of the presence of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy Family – Jesus, Mary, and Joseph — pray for us
Saints Peter and Paul — pray for us