More than 8,000 faithful attended triple celebrations held by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand. They included two Thai cardinals, one Thai archbishop, 11 Thai bishops, an archbishop emeritus from Malaysia, a cardinal and a bishop from Laos and the apostolic nuncio to Thailand. The events were held at Chiang Rai Rajabhat University in northern Thailand on July 7. Participants celebrated the inauguration of the new Chiang Rai Diocese, the episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Joseph Wutthilert Haelom
, and the launch of preparations for the commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam (Mission of Siam: 1669-2019). Representatives of other Christian denominations and leaders of Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam also attended. The first seeds of the Good News of the Lord were sown in Siam (now Thailand) in 1544. In 2015, the local church celebrated the 50th anniversary of the elevation of two hierarchical Christian communities as archdioceses, namely Bangkok and Thare-Nongseng. Over the past 50 years, eight new dioceses were created: Chanthaburi, Ratchaburi, Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Surat Thani and Nakhon Sawan. With the establishment of the new Chiang Rai Diocese, Thailand is now composed of two ecclesiastical provinces and nine suffragan dioceses. The objective of creating the new diocese is to make possible a closer and more effective monitoring of pastoral work, ministerial services and spreading the Good News. The two bishops who take care of the distinct northern dioceses of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai will be able to carry out their duties more effectively and efficiently. As each diocese comprises a smaller area, pastoral visits can be performed on a more regular basis, especially in mountainous areas.