By 1696, the following settlements
within Dapitan jurisdiction had a church building, and these numbers
of Christian residents: Dapitan (411); Iligan (420); Layaun (176);
Ylaya (360); Dipolog (210); Dicayo (286); Duhinob (339); Manukan
(335); Sian (219); Sindangan (91); Mucas (295); and Quipit (336).
All in all at the end of the 17th century numbered 3478
Things ahead looked bright for the
Jesuit missionaries until the Bourbons ascended to the Spanish crown
in the 18th century. Their endearing and questionable
loyalty to the Pope and Rome, as well as their international
character, made the men of St. Ignatius a threat to the Bourbons and
their plans. This resulted to the banishment of the Jesuits from all
lands under the domination of the Bourbon monarchs in 1768. They
were expelled from the Philippines soon after. The Order of
Augustinian Recollects took over their jurisdiction, including the
Dapitan mission in 1770.
The Augustinian Recollects arrived in
the Philippines in 1606. They came late for the Philippines among
the Augustinians, Franciscans, Jesuits and Dominicans eight years
earlier. Thus, the eastern part of Mindanao was taken from the
Jesuits and assigned to them. In 1770, the expulsion of the Society
of Jesus handed to them the whole island as field for mission work.
For the Dapitan mission, Bernardo Teresa became the first superior.
During the administration of the
Recollects, the Katipunan parish was established in 1796. At that
time, it was known as Lubungan. Its first pastor was Vicente
Melendo de San Cipriano. Moreover, in 1865, the jurisdiction of
Dapitan and the whole Mindanao was transferred from the ecclesial
province of Cebu to the newly created diocese of Jaro.
The Royal Decree of 1852 allowed the
Society of Jesus back to the Spanish lands. They returned to the
Philippines and resumed their old Mindanao mission. In 1870, Juan
Calabert took possession of Dapitan. Antonio Obach shepherded
Katipunan. But he stayed occasionally at a former Recollect
residence in Dipolog, a kind of trading center of communities
traveling between Dapitan and Katipunan.
Dipolog was under Katipunan until it was
established as a parish in 1896. Jose Vilaclara became its first
parish priest. But three years earlier, the Jesuit Eusebio Barado
led the faithful of the place in reconstruction a new church
building. His successors continued what he started as well as build
public infrastructures like street, drainage system and irrigation.
As preachers, builders and educators of children, young men and
women, the Jesuits served Dipolog until 1940 when they passed the
stewardship to the Filipino diocesan clergy took over in 1946 in the
person of Epifanio Baleares.
Most of the Filipino diocesan clergy who
received and continued the evangelizing work of the Society of Jesus
were Josefinos, so called for having finished their priestly
formation at San Jose Seminary. Trained by the Jesuits, they proved
to be fitting successors of their mentors. Furthermore, the Diocese
of Zamboanga which had jurisdiction over Mindanao since 1910
continued to be administered by the Jesuits who expectedly relied on
their products. One of them was Luis del Rosario who, as archbishop
of Zamboanga, allowed his auxiliary bishop, Leopoldo Arcaira, to
stay and administer the northern part of the archdiocese from
Then came the papal announcement in 1967
that the Diocese of Dipolog was created out of Zamboanga. It was
above all a recognition that the local church in this part of the
world had come to age. She could now stand on and walk with her own
feet. Aside from Dapitan, Katipunan and Dipolog, the other parishes
which were established before 1967 and became part of the new
diocese were: Sindangan (1936), Labason (1941), Rizal (1950), Siocon
(1951), Manukan (1952), Polanco (1954), Liloy (1957), Barcelona
(1958), and Salug (1960). Piñan became a parish by the end of 1967.
The new diocese consists of the entire
province of Zamboanga del Norte. Including the two cities of
Dipolog and Dapitan, the total land area of the province is 720,594
hectares or 7,205.94 square kilometers. It covers the western
boarder of Mindanao facing the Sulu Sea. Its climate is mild and
moderate. As of 1990, the entire population of the province has
grown to 673,771 of which 80.3% belongs to the Catholic faith, 5.1%
to Islam, 3.6% to the Protestant churches, 7.2% to other religious
denominations and 3.8% without religious affiliation.
From the moment he set his foot on the
diocese, Bishop Felix Zafra opened his arms to his fold and invited
them to Jesus Christ “that they might have life and have to the
full” (“Ut vitam abundantius habeant,” Jn. 10:10). In the process,
basic ecclesial structures were set in place. The number of
parishes increased to twenty–eight. The Maryknoll and PIME
(Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) Fathers came in the 70’s
( he latter taking the place of the Claretians in the South while
the Redemptorist did mission work in the area. Aside from the RVM
(Religious of the Virgin Mary) Sisters who had worked in Dipolog
since 1892, the Holy Spirit Sisters and the Blessed Virgin
Missionaries of Carmel began to serve the diocese. In 1982, the
Sacri- Cordian Sisters were organized by Bishop Zafra. Three years
later, he gathered some young men to form them into Brothers of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.