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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?

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Diocese of Gumla

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Diocese of Gumla
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In a land area of 6754 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers Gumla civil district and part of Simdega district.

Population

Major tribal groups are: Oraon, Kharia, Munda, Asur, Chick-Baraik, Lohra, and Birhor.

Language

Hindi, Sadri, Kurukh (Oraon), Kharia and Mundari are the languages spoken in the diocesan territory.

History

Two regions of the present Gumla diocese, namely Nagpur and Barway, were among the most promising fields of apostolate when, in the last decade of the 19th century, the missionaries of Belgian Jesuit province evangelized what was then called "The Mission of Bengal". Fathers Louis Cardon and Constant Lievens were the most outstanding among them. In 1922, those regions became respectively the deaneries of Konbir-Noatoli and Tongo (Barway) of the Ranchi archdiocese. But it took more than a hundred years after the first period of evangelization when together with other areas, they were united in the present diocese of Gumla, which was erected on May 28, 1993 by Pope John Paul II . Gumla diocese is part of the Ranchi ecclesiastical province. Bishop Michael Minj, S.J., was the first bishop of Gumla.

Political

There are three state assembly seats in the diocesan area: Gumla, Bishunpur and Sisai. Some portion of it falls under Simdega assembly constituency.

Transportation

Road transport is prevalent in the area of the diocese.

Economy

The per capita income in the diocesan territory is Rs. 15622 ($343) as of February 2011. People depend for their livelihood only on agriculture, especially on paddy crop.

Telecommunication

Mobile phones are spreading fast. No TV broadcasting station and radio stations in the territory.

Education

Literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 65.75 percent.

Culture

Music, song, dance and drama in the region are all based on tribal culture. All the tribal communities have always been linked with nature. In the diocese, Oraons form the major tribal group.

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