Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Catholicism in the Philippines

“…500 years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel... And this joy is evident in your people … We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands …”

~ Pope Francis said in his homily of the Mass at the Vatican on March 14, formally opening the yearlong celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Catholicism’s arrival in the Philippines.

A country of 7,641 islands at the sea of southeast Asia with a population of 109 million, of which more than 10 million are migrants living in almost 100 countries across the world.

Why the Pope calls Filipinos “smugglers of faith”? What makes the local Church so unique?

What is the Catholic population in the country? How many dioceses, bishops are there?

All you need to know about the Church in the Philippines in one click
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Diocese of Bijnor

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Diocese of Bijnor
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With an area of 30, 664 square kilometers, the diocese covers Bijnor district in Uttar Pradesh and districts of Pauri, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Tehri, Uttarkashi and part of Haridwar in Uttarakhand. Bijnor and Haridwar are the biggest towns in the diocese.


The total population in the diocese is 3,071,000.


Hindi, Garhwalee and Urdu are the main languages used.


Pope Paul VI created Bijnor as an apostolic exarchate on March 23, 1972, from Meerut diocese. It was entrusted to the Sacred Heart province of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, and Father Gratian Mundadan, CMI, was appointed apostolic exarch. Its territory lie within Uttar Pradesh state until the new state of Uttarakhand was created in 2000.

Pope Paul VI raised the apostolic exarchate of Bijnor to an eparchy on Feb. 26, 1977, making Exarch Mundadan its first bishop.

On Aug. 14, 2009, Father John Vadakel, CMI, was appointed second bishop of Bijnor. He was installed on Oct. 22, 2009.


Cities are managed by corporations. Villages and small towns are administered by panchayats and municipalities, respectively. These local bodies are elected.


The diocesan area is well connected in terms of transportation infrastructure by roads and railways. The nearest airport is in New Delhi.


Per capita income is Rs 56,000 ($1,852) as of March 2011. Farming dominates with wheat, rice, sugarcane and vegetables as main crops.


Government and private operators provide extensive telecommunication facilities in the diocesan area. The diocese is well served by local cable TV networks.


71.62 percent literacy rate.

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