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 Daejeon

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Diocese of Daejeon
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In a land area of 9,140 square kilometers, the Daejeon diocesan territory includes Daejeon Metropolitan City and Chungcheongnam-do (province).

The diocese was erected as a "missio indepens" (independent mission) on May 8, 1948, and became an apostolic vicariate on June 23, 1958. On March 10, 1962, it was elevated to a diocese and became a member of the ecclesiastical province headed by Seoul archdiocese. As of the end of 2004, it had 106 parishes, 218,082 Catholics and 237 priests.

Daejeon diocese is the birthplace of the first Korean priest, Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon, and has many shrines connected with him such as the Solmoe Shrine. The diocese also has many historical places related to the persecutions of Christians in the 19th century, such as the Haemi Shrine and Galmaemot.

Daejeon diocese is concentrating on promoting priestly vocations and much work is done by the diocesan major seminary in this respect. About 20 priests are ordained annually as a result of the seminary's efforts.

The diocese also built the St. J. Hasang Education Center near Daejeon Catholic University for the education of lay people in the diocese and in the nation. The center was the venue of the 8th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences held in August 2004.


In Daejeon diocesan jurisdiction, the population is 3,818,000 at the end of 2016. (Some 7.0 percent of the whole population 51 million in the country). Most residents are ethnic Koreans.


Standard Korean is in use. English, a mandatory subject in schools, is spoken and understood in business and tourist areas. All traffic signs are in English and Korean.


Daejeon diocese falls within the temperate zone and has the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. The yearly average temperature is 11-13 degrees Celsius. The annual precipitation in the region averages 1,100-1,300 millimeters. Most of the rainfall occurs within the monsoon period of June through September.


The Chungcheongnam-do province is in the central area of the Korean peninsula. It is the lowest-lying region here with an average altitude of some 100 meters. The area is also the center of South Korea's railroads and highways. Daejeon is the junction of many highways and railways leading from Seoul to southeastern areas such as Daegu and Busan, and southwestern areas such as Gwangju and Mokpo.

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