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UCAN gets new leadership, expands into services

Father Michael Kelly SJ (L) has handed over UCAN’s executive leadership to Peter Monthienvichienchai (R).  ( photo)

BANGKOK – The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) has a new leader — Peter Monthienvichienchai, who succeeds Father Michael Kelly SJ as executive director after the latter spent almost 10 years in the job.

Peter is Thai with a doctorate in computer science from University College London and extensive experience in management, education and social media. He is the first Asian and first lay person to lead UCAN.

Peter was educated by the Benedictines at Ampleforth Abbey in York in northern England before taking his doctorate in London. He is married with two children and returned to live in Thailand after completing his postdoctorate research and working with data companies in Europe. On his return, he led St John’s International School for 10 years and then worked at senior executive level for two years in the property development sector in Bangkok.

“It’s a privilege to serve in such a unique organisation as UCAN,” Peter said. “Together with our network of correspondents throughout Asia, I look forward to enhancing UCAN’s ability to support the mission of the church and to provide the strongest voice for the voiceless of Asia.”

He started with UCAN in September 2017 as deputy executive director, chief financial officer and chief technical officer. He succeeded Father Kelly on 15 May 2018.

But Father Kelly is not leaving UCAN. He is moving sideways to take more responsibility for new ventures developed in the last three years — the daily publication of La Croix International for Bayard Presse and the English edition of La Civilta Cattolica.

Two digital projects are also in development: a booking platform for travelers who want to stay at monasteries, convents and retreat houses across the world called Good Night and God Bless ( and a Facebook-like site dedicated to memorials for the deceased called Skymorials.

These are promising times for UCAN as it develops relationships with long-standing partners such as the Paris Foreign Mission, Maryknoll and European donors and new ventures with some of the key publishers in the Catholic world such as Bayard Presse in Paris and La Civilta Cattolicain Rome.

“I feel more than confident in Peter’s capacity, skills and vision to take UCAN to a new level of performance and service to the Catholic Church in Asia,” Father Kelly said. –, 23 May 2018

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