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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 Calbayog

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Diocese of Calbayog
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In a land area of 5,591 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the civil jurisdiction of the province of Samar (formerly known Western Samar).

Samar Island occupies the eastern portion of the Philippines. It lies southeast of Luzon and covers the northernmost section of Eastern Visayas. It is separated from Luzon on the north by San Bernardino Strait and from Leyte on the southwest by the narrow San Juanico Strait. The territory is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by Leyte Gulf and on the west by the Samar Sea.

Population

The total population in the diocesan territory is 770,045 as of the end of December 2016.

History

Suffragan of Palo
Created: April 10, 1910
Comprises the civil jurisdiction of the province of Western Samar
Titular: Sts. Peter and Paul
Feast Day: June 29

Leyte and Samar were once considered one province by the Spanish government placed under the jurisdiction of Cebu. In 1768 it was divided into separate provinces, with Tacloban as the capital of Leyte and Catbalogan the capital of Samar.

On April 10, 1910, Pope Pius X separated the island provinces of Samar and Leyte form the Diocese of Cebu, and erected the Diocese of Calbayog comprising both island provinces. In 1914 the Franciscans turned over the administration of the parishes of Samar to the secular clergy.

On Nov. 28, 1937, Pope Pius XI separated Leyte from the Calbayog diocese by creating the Diocese of Palo, in Leyte. On Oct. 22, 1960 Pope John XXIII decreed the division of Samar by creating the Diocese of Borongan, also in Samar. And again on March 11, 1975, Pope Paul VI decreed the creation of the Diocese of Catarman, also in Samar. Thus the whole island of Samar now has three dioceses: Calbayog in Western Samar, Borongan in Eastern Samar, and Catarman in Northern Samar. These three dioceses belong to the Ecclesiastical Province of Palo, Leyte, and are suffragans of this archdiocese.

Vision: "A community of persons united in faith, hope and love, centered in Christ, living by the Word and the Sacraments, prophetically witnessing to the Gospel values of sharing, unity, peace and justice, in solidarity with the poor, within the concrete historical situation and needs of the people of Samar, under the guidance of the Magisterium and the example of Mary, Mother of the Church."

Goal: "The Diocese of Calbayog shall have Ecclesial Communities that are renewed, transformed, animated and consumed by the Gospel values of sharing, unity, peace and justice in solidarity with the poor, imbued with the spirit of Vatican II and Plenary Council of the Philippines II, conscious and actively working toward Total Human Development, whose impact will be felt by society."

Thrust: "Basic Ecclesial Communities that are committed to Evangelization and Total Human Development."

Education

Literacy rate (simple literacy) 85.5 percent

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