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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 Bongaigaon

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Diocese of Bongaigaon
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Bongaigaon diocese covers an area of 13,630 square kilometers, comprising civil districts of Nalbari, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar and Dhubri in the western part of Assam.

Bongaigaon is the biggest town in the diocese. Kokrajhar and Nalbari are the other main towns.

Population

Bongaigaon Diocese covers an area of 13,630 square kilometers, comprising the civil districts of Nalbari, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar and Dhubri Districts in the western part of Assam.

Bongaigaon is the biggest town in the diocese. Kokrajhar and Nalbari are the other main towns.

Language

Assamese, Bodo, Hindi, Santhal, Garo, Oroan, Khadia, Munda, Rajbonshi and Bengali are the languages used in the diocesan territory.

History

The Augustinian priests from Dhaka are credited with bringing Christianity to the Bongaigaon area. The neighbouring Dhubri district had a vibrant Christian community in the 16th century. Later Salvatorian priests and then Salesians stayed in Dhubri.

In 1932 Salesian Fathers Archimede Piannazzi and L. Rocca made Dhubri the base for their apostolate in the Garo Hills, where Catholics were denied permission to work. The Barpeta Road Mission was established in 1936, covering the whole area of the present diocese. Bishops Orestes Marengo, Joseph Mittathany and Robert Kerketta as well as Father Remo Morra made noteworthy efforts to develop the Church here, and Father Joseph Zubizzaretta’s name will be always remembered among the most outstanding missionaries in the area. All were Salesians.

The diocese's Catholic population comes mainly from tribal communities, with Bodos forming the single largest group. Muslims form a majority in Dhubri and Barpeta districts.

Political

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

Transportation

Roads and railways form the basic transportation infrastructure. The nearest airport is in Guwahati, Assam's commercial hub.

Economy

Annual per capita income is Rs 13,925 ($300) as of October 2009. Rice, jute and tea cultivations are mainstays of the local economy. An oil refinery also provides work.

Telecommunication

Government and private operators provide extensive telecommunication facilities, and the area is served by local cable TV networks.

Education

58.51 percent literacy rate.

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