Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Helena
On February 28, 2018, Pope Francis named Bishop Thomas as Bishop of Las Vegas, Nevada. At the same time, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph A. Pepe, who has reached the age of mandatory retirement. Bishop Pepe has served as Bishop of Las Vegas for nearly 17 years. The announcement was made by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Thomas will serve as Apostolic Administrator until his installation as Bishop of Las Vegas on May 15, 2018. After May 15th, a new administrator will be responsible for the inter regnum as the Diocese of Helena awaits Pope Francis’ choice for the next Bishop.
On March 23, 2004, St. Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop George L. Thomas the 10th Bishop of Helena. Bishop Thomas took formal possession of the diocese on June 4, 2004. Monsignor Kevin S. O’Neill served as apostolic administrator for the diocese during the inter regnum between Bishop Morlino and Bishop Thomas.
Born May 19, 1950, in Anaconda, Mont., George Leo Thomas was raised in Butte, the second oldest of five children born to the late Mary Cronin Thomas and George Thomas.
He attended grade school at St. Ann’s parish school in Butte and graduated from Christian Brothers High School, Butte, in 1968. The Thomas family moved to Bellevue, Wash., that same year.
He received his B.A. degree in literature from Carroll College in 1972. He entered St. Thomas Seminary, in Bothell, Wash., as a student for the Archdiocese of Seattle, where he received a master of divinity degree. He was ordained to the priesthood May 22, 1976, at St. James Cathedral in Seattle.
Following ordination, Father Thomas served as associate pastor at Holy Family Parish, Kirkland, and St. James Cathedral in Seattle. He was parish administrator at Sacred Heart Parish in Bellevue, and served at Holy Innocents Mission in Duvall.
Father Thomas served as the Catholic chaplain to the King County Jail and the Seattle City Jail for 12 years and served as chairman of the Board of Directors for Catholic Community Services for 10 years. He also served as chaplain to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Seattle.
In 1981 Father Thomas entered graduate school at the University of Washington and was awarded a master’s degree in counseling and community mental health in 1983. In 1986 he earned a doctor of philosophy degree with an area of specialty in Pacific Northwest mission history. Father Thomas’ dissertation, titled “Catholics and the Missions of the Pacific Northwest,” received the university’s Gordon C. Lee Award for the distinguished dissertation for 1986.
In 1987 Father Thomas was appointed chancellor and vicar general, positions he held for 17 years. Following the death of Archbishop Thomas Murphy in 1997, Father Thomas was elected administrator for the Archdiocese of Seattle until the appointment of Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett, who re-appointed Father Thomas as vicar general.
George Leo Thomas was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle by Pope John Paul II on Nov. 19, 1999, and was ordained Bishop on Jan. 28, 2000. He continued his service as Vicar General and as chairman of the Board of Directors for Catholic Community Services and the Archdiocesan Housing Authority.
On March 23, 2004, he was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Helena, and was installed at the Cathedral of St. Helena on June 4, 2004.
Bishop Thomas’ current memberships and affiliations:
Chancellor, Carroll College
Carroll College Board of Trustees
Foundation for the Diocese of Helena Board of Directors
Montana Catholic Conference Board of Directors
Catholic Social Services of Montana Board of Directors
Catholic Mutual Group Board of Directors
Mount Angel Seminary Episcopal Council
St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Board of Trustees
United States Catholic Conference of Bishops
Catholic Extension Board of Governors
Catholic Health Association Governance Committee
Catholic Health Association Executive Committee