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
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!”