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New bishop of Laos vows to work for evangelization, education and social action

Episcopal Ordination of new Apostolic Vicar of Paksè, Andrew Souksavath Nouane Asa on August 15, 2022 in Laos. (Photo by Fondacio Asia)

The new Apostolic Vicar of Paksè, Laos, says he will prioritize evangelization, education, and social development.

The small Catholic community in Laos rejoices at the gift of the new Apostolic Vicar of Paksè: Bishop Andrew Souksavath Nouane Asa, 50, of the indigenous clergy of Laos.

"The priority of my pastoral mission is to engage in catechesis, education, and social works, to give the Good News to the people of the Vicariate of Paksé," he said.

The local church welcomed him and participated in the ordination rite on the solemnity of the Assumption, on August 15, in the Church of Saint Joseph in the village of Kamphaeng, about 30 kilometers north of the city of Pakse.

Cardinal Louis Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Vientiane and administrator of Luang Prabang consecrated the new bishop.

Six archbishops and bishops of Cambodia (including the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler) also attended the ceremony, as the Catholic Bishops of Cambodia and Laos share the same episcopal conference.

Laotian priests, religious and Catholics filled the church in a celebration during which the whole congregation expressed deep joy.

The Vicariate of Paksé includes four civil provinces of southern Laos and has priests, missionaries, men and women religious and lay faithful who serve as catechists.

Cardinal Mangkhanekhoun told the new bishop: "The Lord our God has chosen you to be a guide of the Church, which is his people. Be a good brother, a good shepherd, friendly and helpful to all those you serve. Be patient, have mercy, and share the love of our Lord Jesus Christ with others. Pray daily for strength and grace from God for your mission." 

Bishop Andrew Souksavath Nouane Asa is the second indigenous bishop of the Vicariate of Pakse, after Cardinal Mangkhanekhoun, who was later called from the Apostolic Vicariate of Pakse to serve as Vicar of Vientiane.

He was born on August 5, 1972, in Pakse, where he attended the minor seminary from 1988 to 1991. 

From 1992 to 1996, he did postgraduate studies at the Pedagogical University of Vientiane. From 1998 to 2002, he studied philosophy at Christ the King Seminary in British Columbia (Canada), and from 2002 to 2005, he finished theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in Edmonton (Alberta), where he earned a degree in theology.

He was ordained a priest on December 30, 2006, for the Apostolic Vicariate of Paksé. After his priestly ordination, he first served as a parish priest in charge of ten mission stations (2007–2009).

He was youth director of the Apostolic Vicariate of Paksé (2007–2012). He then continued his studies in dogmatic theology at Saint Vincent School of Theology, Adamson University, Manila, Philippines (2008-2010).

He was then a pastor in charge of 12 mission stations (2010–2017) and, since 2012, a professor of philosophy at the Saint Jean-Marie Vianney Major Seminary in Savannakhet. Since 2017, he has been a pastor in charge of ten mission stations.

At the end of 2017, he was appointed as apostolic administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis (at the disposition of the Holy See) of the apostolic vicariate of Paksé until May 31, 2022.

Since 2019, he has been secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Laos and Cambodia (CELAC).

Bishop Schmitthaeusler, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, expressed his gratitude and joy for the fraternal meeting of bishops (after two years of a pandemic), always hoping for "living communion and collaboration between the communities of Laos and Cambodia."

According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church 2020, the Church in Laos has 51,000 baptized people, divided into four Apostolic Vicariates (Vientiane, Paksè, Luang Prabang, and Savannakhet), for a total of 180 parishes and 71 mission stations.

In Laos, there are three bishops, 25 diocesan priests, 24 religious (including 22 priests, 2 lay brothers), 107 nuns, and 295 catechists.

The Vicariate of Paksè has 21,445 Catholics and 57 parishes, with 8 diocesan priests and 6 religious priests. In 2021, there were 478 baptisms. - Agenzia Fides 


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