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More significant to the diocese was the increasing number of Filipino diocesan priests ordained. They now came from different seminaries. But they were able to rise above their differences and work together, subscribing to the principle of unity amidst diversity.  The founding of two seminaries capped the remarkable growth of the diocesan clergy. In 1979, Bishop Zafra co-founded St. Mary’s Theologate in Ozamis City with the other DOPIM bishops (Bishop Jesus Varela, Bishop Jesus Tuquib, Bishop Fernando Capalla and Bishop Bienvenido Tudtud) for their theology students. The following year, Cor Jesu Seminary was established in Dipolog for its college seminarians. It became the heart of the diocese. Eventually, the Dipolog priests extended their service to other dioceses-nationally and internally.

Bishop Jose R. Manguiran was appointed to take the reins of Dipolog on May 27, 1987. Installed on September 9, 1987, he immediately rallied the clergy and his flock to “do all in the nale of the Lord” (Facitis omnia in nomini Domini,” Col. 3:17). He called his people to form themselves into ecclesial communities, building from previously established basic church structures. For these communities to the effective, Bishop Manguiran has encouraged cooperatives to be organized and to engage in income-generating projects. His love for the land and respect for nature has shown itself to be contagious. The number among his flock who have become ecology-conscious is growing. As the diocese goes beyond her twenty-fifth year, Bishop Manguiran, together with clergy and supported by laity, possesses the capacity to provide direction to the local church according to the gospel values and the vision of DOPIM and PCP II (Second Plenary Council of the Philippines).

Challenges indeed lie ahead. For one, the church has to face with the government the problems besetting the province the most pressing of which is poverty. Literacy is high (89.7%). Yet, 83% of the total provincial population falls below the poverty threshold.  Their families earn P12,765 annually, way below the poverty level of P27,900 set for the province. Most of them are farmers and fishermen residing in rural areas. Ironically, agriculture provides the main source of income for the province.  But the productivity of the agricultural land remains low. Added to this, increased unemployment and underemployment account for the people’s destitution. To be truly a church of the poor, the local church must be able to address and lend a hand in the liberation of the people from their predicament. She hopes to fulfill her part of building basic ecclesial communities (BEC/GSK) supported by cooperatives engaged in income-generating projects and by facilitating national reconciliation in pursuit of peace.

The local church in Dipolog is also challenged to review and update its diocesan policies.  The world has changed quite rapidly. The diocese has to keep abreast with these changes to remain relevant. Serving more than half a million people is not easy. But the challenge is there. Besides forming her flock into basic communities, she can also extend her hands to other denominations of faith in dialogue and communion.  Ecumenical movement must be part of the church agenda.

Finally, the church in Dipolog has to take care of her priests who, as leader servants of Christian communities, face more challenges. Their formation does not end at ordination. Otherwise, if one gets sick at the head, the rest of the body cannot function well. The diocese has to come up and implement a comprehensive program designed to provide an on-going formation of the clergy. Setting up an” ordination to expiration” clergy foundation is necessary in this pursuit.

Integral development through community empowerment, national reconciliation, dialogue and communion of faith, ecological concerns—these are a few of the challenges which assure an exciting ecclesial life to the diocese of Dipolog.

Today, the church in Dipolog looks back to her past with gratitude and jubilee. Looking forward, she welcomes her future undaunted, even tasking herself with the mission “Hiusahonan tanan diha ni Kristo aron mabatonan ang kinabuhi madagayaon”.

July 31, 2017…. With our patroness, Our Lady of the Rosary, we invite you, “Come! Today we go beyond our 25th year. Let us begin realizing and celebrating our golden jubilee!”



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