UCAN REPORT: Catholics throughout Laos have welcomed their new priest, ordained for a northern long-time vicariate that has not had a priestly ordination in 30 years.
Father Pierre Buntha Silaphet was ordained a priest for Luang Prabang apostolic vicariate on Jan. 29 by Bishop Louis Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun of Pakse at a service attended by some 1,000 people of Catholic and other denominations.
Church sources say Luang Prabang vicariate has not had a priestly ordination for more than 30 years.
Father Buntha, 34, is from Sayaboury village, northern Laos. The ethnic Khomu priest is the youngest of a family with seven siblings. His parents are farmers.
After finishing his philosophical and theological studies at St. John Vianney Major Semianary in Thakhek, he also studied English for one year in the Philippines.
Father Buntha’s ordination, originally scheduled for Dec. 12 at Sayaboury parish church, was postponed by local army officials for security reasons. The church is in front of an army camp.
Father Pierre Buntha Silaphet (second left) during his ordination Mass
A priest who asked not to be named told ucanews.com that 20 Sayaboury villagers were prevented from traveling to Farther Buncha’s ordination by village guards on Jan. 28.
However, villagers from other villages throughout the country offered Father Buncha rice, cattle, cooking items, blankets and pillows.
There are about 43,000 Catholics in Laos, out of a total population of about 6 million, most of whom are Buddhists, according to a Church source in Laos. Less than15 priests and 100 nuns serve Catholics in the four Church jurisdictions — Luang Prabang, Pakse, Savannakhet and Vientiane apostolic vicariates.