On February 8, 2023, Pope Francis appointed H.E Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells as nuncio to Thailand and Cambodia and Apostolic Delegate to Laos.
Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells completed his studies in philosophy at St. Meinrad Seminary College in Saint Meinrad, Indiana. He completed his studies in theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In 1990, he obtained a Bachelor of Theology degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Archbishop Peter Brian Wells spent time in Cambodia from May 21st to May 24th, 2023. He started to meet the king of Cambodia and visit different pastoral centers of the Catholic Church in Phnom Penh Vicariate, and he had the chance to celebrate Mass with his Excellency Bishop Olivier, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, on May 22, 2023, at St. Joseph Parish.
On May 23, 2023, he spent time visiting the Takeo pastoral center, which is located in the southwest of the kingdom of Cambodia, approximately 64 km from the capital city of Phnom Penh. On the afternoon of the 23rd, he spent his time visiting Saint Paul Institute, which is the only Catholic higher education institution in Cambodia. All academic staff and students of Saint Paul Institute were honored and delighted to welcome H.E. Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells, Apostolic Nuncio, to the Kingdom of Cambodia, together with Msgr. Indunil Kodthuwaku, Secretary of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue in Rome, and accompanied by H.E. Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, Founder and Chancellor of Saint Paul Institute.
Mr. Phon Sophal, director of Saint Paul Institute, shared in 15 minutes about SPI’s mission and vision, in particular how the Institute contributes to Cambodia in terms of social development in the area of higher education from Catholic perspectives. He had mentioned how the Institute provides great opportunities to poor communities from different provinces to pursue bachelor’s degrees and associate degrees at Saint Paul Institute. He also mentioned that almost 100% of students who graduated from Saint Paul Institute have jobs, are able to help their own families, and work with good morals and competency.
At that time, His Excellency Bishop Olivier, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, Founder and Chancellor of Saint Paul Institute, had shared briefly about the history of Saint Paul Institute, where he started from nothing in a very remote area. And now this area has become very crowded and also has potential opportunities to develop in the area of education. He also expressed that at first it was really hard to find the Cambodian leader to take responsibility for the Saint Paul Institute. He had found one or two potential Cambodians to lead and prepare all the documents to start the institute. Instead, currently Cambodian leaders, such as the Catholic young leader Mr. Phon Sophal, have taken on the role of leadership in Saint Paul Institute, and he is happy to see Cambodians take responsibility and work for Catholic Church institutions. He also mentioned with openness and welcome all other Catholic institutions in Asia and from all around the world to work in collaboration with Saint Paul Institute as a very young Catholic institution.
In conclusion, His Excellency Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells has expressed his happiness and appreciated what His Excellency Bishop Olivier has done so far for the education sector in the Phnom Penh vicariate. As one of the professors at the Catholic University in the USA, he would love to support some activities for Catholic higher education in Cambodia. He also expressed that he is happy to support networks or connections to other Catholic universities from other countries in the world who are willing to help young institutions in Cambodia like Saint Paul Institute.
On behalf of the Saint Paul Institute, we would like to thanks H.E. Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells, Apostolic Nuncio to the Kingdom of Cambodia, and Msgr. Indunil Kodthuwaku, Secretary of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue in Rome, for spending their valuable time visiting SPI.