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 Chunchon

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Diocese of Chunchon
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With a land area of 23,171 square kilometers, the Chunchon diocesan territory includes Cheorwon-gun (county), Chuncheon-si (city), part of Donghae-si, Gangneung-si, Goseong-gun, Hongcheon-gun, Hwacheon-gun, Inje-gun, part of Pyeongchang-gun, Sokcho-si, Yanggu-gun, Yangyang-gun in Gangwon-do (province), the entire area of Gangwon-do in North Korea, and Gapyeong-gun and Pocheon-si in Gyeonggi-do. However, there has been no parish and no priest in the diocesan territory within North Korea since the Korean War (1950-1953).

The diocese belongs to the ecclesiastical province of Seoul, which comprises Seoul archdiocese, the dioceses of Daejeon, Incheon, Suwon, Uijeongbu, and Wonju, the two North Korean dioceses of Hamhung and Pyongyang, and the Territorial Abbacy of Tokwon, also in North Korea.

Chuncheon, the capital of Gangwon-do, is a lake town for tourists, thanks to its naturally clean waters and beautiful mountains. In the city, service industries such as public works, education and finance, etc., have been developed.

Gangwon-do is in the middle of the eastern half of the Korean peninsula. Most of its land is thickly-forested mountain slopes and scenic coastal strips. The splendid landscape makes Gangwon-do ideal for tourism. The province has a small population compared to its land size, so it has developed relatively slowly. However, as both North and South Korea take steps toward reunification, Gangwon-do is increasingly gaining in importance.

Every year, an average of 38,600,000 Korean and foreign tourists visit the province. Its distinctive four seasons allow people to enjoy all kinds of leisure sports throughout the year. The mountainous highland areas have a cool climate in summer and an icy cold climate and much snowfall in winter, so winter sports are well developed.

At the end of 2004, Gangwon-do had 1,528,640 people. (The population of South Korea was 49,052,988).


In Chunchon diocesan jurisdiction, the population is 1,114,212 at the end of 2016. (Some 2.3 percent of the whole population 51 million in the country) Most residents are ethnic Koreans.


Korean language is in use. English, a mandatory subject in schools, is spoken and understood in business and tourist areas.


Four seasons. Spring is from March to May, summer from June to August, autumn from September to November, and winter from December to February.


Most of Gangwon-do's land is mountainous. The province is largely divided into Yeongdong on the east coastal side of the Taebaek Mountains, the backbone of the Korean peninsula, and Yeongseo on the west side of that ridgeline. The upstream watershed of the Bukhan-gang lies near the Demilitarized Zone.

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