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 Jayapura

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Diocese of Jayapura
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Jayapura diocese covers an area of 115,349 square kilometers comprising seven districts (Jayapura, Keerom, Jayawijaya, Yahukimo, Tolikara, Pegunungan Bintang, Sarmi) and one municipality (Jayapura).


Jesuit Father P.C. le Cocq d'Armandville brought the Catholic faith to the Mimika coast in 1894, but evangelization in the area could not continue as the Dutch colonial government in Batavia prohibited Catholic mission work in northern Papua.

Franciscan missionaries arrived almost half a century later, in early 1937, and two years later they started evangelization work in Keerom, southern Papua. Their mission areas also included the Mimika coast and Wisel Lake, where Sacred Heart missioners, with the help of teachers from the Kei islands, had started evangelization work.

In 1949, all the Franciscan mission areas were detached from the apostolic vicariate of New Guinea (Langgur). In 1950, the apostolic prefecture of Hollandia (Jayapura) was established for northern Papua, and the apostolic vicariate of Merauke for the area from Mimika south.

In 1966, three years after Indonesia took over governance of the territory from the Dutch,. the apostolic vicariates of Jayapura and Manokwari-Sorong were elevated to dioceses, while Merauke was made an archdiocese.


Land, sea and air transportation are available, and even remote areas can be reached by small aircraft. On March 23, 1959, Catholic Church formed Associated Mission Aviation (AMA), aimed at supporting the local government's development program for people living in remote areas. AMA now has seven aircraft.


Every district town has a post office and a telecommunications tower using a satellite system. District towns are also connected via telephone networks.


In 2004, the percentage of students completing the various school levels was up compared to statistics from 2001:

  • Elementary school graduates increased to 86.97 percent from 84.15 percent
  • Junior high school graduates increased to 45.43 percent from 39.76 percent
  • Senior high school graduates increased to 25.72 percent from 21.67 percent

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