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 Srikakulam

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Diocese of Srikakulam
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In a land area of 8,734 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers civil district of Srikakulam and taluks of Kurupam, Parvathipuram, Cheepurupalli and Gummalakshmipuram of Vizianagaram district. Srikakulam and Parvathipuram, Palankonde and Rajam are other important towns in the diocese.


In the diocesan territory the population is 3,808,756 at the end of 2017. Telegus are the major ethnic groups. The diocesan area has a substantial number of tribals.


Telegu, Oriya and English are the languages used in the diocesan territory. 


The geographical area of the diocese is 8,542 square kilometers. It was bifurcated from the erstwhile diocese of Visakhapatnam and erected a separate diocese on Aug. 4, 1993, with Bishop A. Innayya as the first bishop.

The diocese was started with 35,000 Catholics, 14 parishes, and few resources for caring to the spiritual, pastoral, social, economical and educational development of the vast population of the area. With the strenuous efforts and zeal of bishop, priests and religious the task of building up of the Church in Srikakulam diocese has been speeded up and today it has more than 65,000 Catholics, 27 parishes and 350 mission stationds, 34 diocesan priests, 150 religious sisters and 150 catechists.


The towns are managed by municipalities. The villages and small towns are administered by elected local bodies called panchayats.


The diocesan area is well connected in terms of transport infrastructure by roads and railway. The nearest airport is in Visakhapatinam city.


The geographical area of the diocese could broadly be divided into two regions like the coastal belt and upland region. The people living in these regions are predominantly the agricultural laborers. The people living in the plain and upland region do occupations like working in the forest, collecting the products from the forest like gum, fire wood, timber, honey, tamarind, etc. and vending the same to the people of the plain areas either in exchange of the other commodities or for cash.

The Srikakulam district is the second largest one in the state of Andhra Pradesh having the highest concentration of the scheduled tribes living across the Western Ghats, either at the foot or the top hills. The tribes like Savaras, Jatapus, Gadabas and Kons are widely seen in this forest area. They make their lives mostly depending upon the forest while some are involved in cultivation.

The people living in plain areas of Srikakulam and parts of Viziangaram are the agricultural laborers. In almost all the village’s majority of the population are scheduled castes. The literacy rate in the diocese is very low.


Per capital income in the diocese territory is Rs 15,308 ($314) as of September 2009. Farming especially paddy cultivation is the biggest occupation.


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


Nearly 53.19 percent is the literacy rate in the diocesan territory.

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