In a land area of 3,053.4 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the civil province of Tarlac. Tarlac is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in the Luzon Island. Its capital is Tarlac City. Tarlac borders Pampanga to the south, Nueva Ecija to the east, Pangasinan to the north, and Zambales to the west. It is a part of Central Luzon, which is composed of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales.
As of year end 2017 the total population of the diocese is 1,337,000 of which 82.70 percent are Catholics or equivalent to 1,106,000.
Pampango or Kapampangan is spoken by more than half of the population followed by Ilocano spoken. Tagalog is widely understood.
DIOCESE OF TARLAC
Created: Feb. 16, 1963
Erected: May 10, 1963
Comprises the Civil Province of Tarlac
Titular: Saint Sebastian
The Diocese of Tarlac comprises the whole province of Tarlac. Before its creation on Feb. 16, 1963, the province belonged to two different dioceses. Its capital town of Tarlac and the southern towns belonged to the then Diocese of San Fernando, Pampanga, and the northern towns to the Diocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Today it is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Pampanga. It is the melting pot where Kapampangans, Ilocanos, Pangasinenses, Tagalogs, and the Aetas live together in harmony and peace.
The province of Tarlac is right in the heartland of Central Luzon which comprises Region III. This location between Manila and the Northern provinces has made it the important trading center that it is today. Tarlac is landlocked by Pangasinan on the north, Nueva Ecija on the east, Pampanga on the south, and Zambales on the west.
Originally Tarlac was part of the provinces of Pampanga and Pangasinan. It was organized as a province of its own close to the end of the Spanish regime. With its neighboring provinces in Central Luzon, Tarlac was among the first to rise up in arms against Spain in 1898. When Malolos was abandoned as the second seat of the First Philippine Republic as the Americans overran the country, Tarlac, Tarlac became the new seat of the new government for a few months.
From more recent times, in World War II, the town of Capas in Tarlac is remembered as hallowed ground where the infamous "Death March" ended at Camp O'Donnell, after the Filipino-American forces surrendered in Bataan. The prisoners were made to walk the entire distance from Bataan to Capas, with hardly any food, half of them dying along the road. In the fifties and the sixties, Tarlac was again the seat of more rebellion, this time by the Hukbalahaps during the term of President Ramon Magsaysay.
The entire diocese is being renewed and evangelized in accordance with the spirit of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. Large parishes are being divided into manageable sizes. Parish pastoral councils are undergoing revitalization along the lines of renewed evangelization. And the laity is gradually being introduced to new methods and concepts.
The Diocese of Tarlac has St. Sebastian for its titular patron.
Tarlac's connectivity with its neighboring provinces and beyond is feasible with the presence of jeepneys and bus services. The province has several inter-provincial bus terminals, all located in the city of Tarlac. Inter-provincial bus transport services like Victory, Five-Star, Philippine Rabbit, Dagupan, Baliwag are some of the buses serving Tarlac and its nearby provinces.
Literacy rate (simple literacy) in the diocesan territory is 94.42 percent.
Belenismo in Tarlac Festival
Belenismo sa Tarlac is a festival that started in 2007, the Belenismo in Tarlac is a showcase of the colourful, authentic and artistically inspired Belen (nativity sets) displays throughout the town's municipalities, business establishments and churches.
Gonsalo's martyrdom at Nagasaki with the other Christian missionaries is regarded as the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan
Calungsod and his companion Father Vitores baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder
Despite being an ordinary layman, Ruiz remained defiant while facing torture by the Japanese and died a brave martyr
He was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of Korea
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
Asian Catholics who cannot visit famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France can revere miraculous Mother Mary at Velankanni shrine in India. The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as “the Lourdes of the East” and holds the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam, about 1,600 kilometers from the national capital Hanoi.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urakami of Nagasaki is a witness of persecution of Christians from 17th to 19th centuries and deadly atomic bombing during the Second World War. This European-style, red-brick church continues to preserve some relics that survived the atomic bombing. Urakami cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, was almost destroyed when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The church stood about 500 meters from the hypocenter of atomic explosion. The devastation shattered and charred stone-made statues of saints, which were later preserved as relics along with the surviving head of Virgin Mary statue and one of the church’s original bells.
Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment. Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963.
The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria is a small church on the western Belait district of Brunei, but it shot into fame thanks to the nation’s most famous Catholic – late Cardinal Cornelius Sim. It is also the second of three churches in Brunei dedicated to Virgin Mary. In fact, Mary has a prominent place not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the dominant faith in Brunei. Holy Quran mentions Mary seventy times and reveres her as the greatest woman to have ever lived.