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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?

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Diocese of Kalay

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Diocese of Kalay
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In a land area of 22,235 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers 3 townships of Chin State: Tedim, Tonzang and Chikha, and 6 townships of Sagaing Division: Tamu, Kalay, Kalewa, Phaungbyin, Mawlaik and Homalin. Kalay diocese is located in the northwestern part of Myanmar (Burma), bordering on India.

Population

There are 1,373,918 inhabitants in the territory; two thirds of the region are situated on the mountainous and hilly ranges. The majority of the inhabitants are Chin-hill-tribal people.

Language

There are 1,373,918 inhabitants in the territory; two thirds of the region are situated on the mountainous and hilly ranges. The majority of the inhabitants are Chin-hill-tribal people.

History

The Chin State was under the Archdiocese of Mandalay until Hakha Diocese was established on Nov. 21, 1992. Bishop Nicholas Mang Thang, becoming the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Mandalay after his episcopal ordination on Jan. 15, 1989, was appointed the first Bishop of Hakha Diocese. He was enthroned on March 21, 1993 in Hakha. Pope Benedict XVI elevated Msgr. Felix Lian Khen Thang, one of Chin priests from the same diocese, to the rank of episcopacy and appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Hakha Diocese. His episcopal ordination was held on May 6, 2006.

On May 22, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI erected a new diocese of Kalay with the territory taken from Hakha Diocese and Auxiliary bishop of Hakha diocese was appointed as ordinary of Kalay diocese. The installation was held on June 29, 2010.

Transportation

There is a domestic airport only at Kalay where the diocesan centre locates. Most of the roads that can be used by car are not serviceable during the rainy seaon but only during summer and winter seasons. A few kilometers of railways can be found in the plain areas. In many remote areas people are still traveling on foot carrying things on their shoulders.

Telecommunication

In some places there are landline-telephones and very few mobile phones. Only at the diocesan centre there is internet and email access. But no parish has this means of communication.

Religion

Christianity is the major religion of Chins. 86 percent of Chins belong to the Protestant denominations. There are a few Buddhists, animists and Muslims.

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