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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 Khunti

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Diocese of Khunti
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In a land area of 3, 365 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers Khunti civil district.

Population

In Khunti civil district, the population is 971,000 as of 2016. Major tribal groups are Munda, Oraon, Gond, Chick-Baraik, Gorait, Karmali, Lohra, Mahli and Birhor.

Language

Languages used in the diocesan territory are Hindi, Sadri, Mundari and Oraon.

History

The first Catholic Father in Chotanagpur was Father Augustine Stockman, SJ, whose work began in 1868 in Chaibasa. He was the first to preach the Gospel in the four parishes in the Munda region, over a period of more than 20 years. In 1885, Father Constance Lievens SJ, the "Apostle of Chotanagpur", settle in Torpa, western part of the diocese. The tribal Mundas flocked to Torpa to hear him.

Father John Baptist Hoffmann's mission to the Mundas began in 1893. His outstanding contributions lay in his struggle for the rights of the tribals. He also set up a co-operative bank to free the people from the tyranny of money-lenders and his invaluable work on Mundari language and culture is seen in his 16 volume "Encyclopedia - Mundarica" which he worked after his repatriation to Germany in 1915.

In 1928, the archdiocese of Calcutta gave birth to the diocese of Ranchi. Bishop Louis Van Hoeck SJ was selected as the first bishop.

In 1952, Ranchi became an archdiocese with Archbishop Nicholaus Kujur SJ as its first archbishop.

The diocese of Khunti was established by Pope John Paul II with southern territory taken from the archdiocese of Ranchi. Khunti diocese comprises the whole civil subdivision of Khunti and the parish of Bandgaon in West Singhbhum district. The Catholic population of the diocese consists mostly of scheduled tribes, chiefly Mundas. Bishop Stephen M. Tiru, bishop of Dumka, was transferred to Khunti on May 12, 1995, as the first bishop of the new diocese.

Political

Khunti has one parliamentary constituency comprising Khunti and Simdega civil districts. There are three state assembly seats in the diocese.

Transportation

Transportation mode in the region is road.

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